Unlike bumblebees, honeybee queens mate a dozen or so times, all during a single nuptial flight made early in life. Each young queen releases a pheromone which is enormously attractive to the males - known as drones - who eagerly swarm after her. They mate in mid-air, the male grasping the female's abdomen with his claspers and then explosively squirting sperm into her. This explosion produces an audible pop and ruptures the male's genitalia, usually causing fatal damage so that he falls to the ground and quickly expires, leaving behind fragments of his genitalia still attached to the queen. She continues her flight, and is swiftly mounted by a second male who scrapes off the remains of his predecessor before repeating the process. The new queen continues until she has stored enough sperm for a lifetime of egg production, at which point she returns to the nest, leaving behind a trail of dead lovers.
Fragment uit A Sting in the Tale van Dave Goulson.