The spermatheca also called receptaculum seminis (plural: receptacula seminis), is an organ of the female reproductive tract in insect
Insects are a class of living creatures within the arthropods that have a chitinous exoskeleton, a three-part body , three pairs of jointed legs, compound eyes, and two antennae...

s, some molluscs, oligochaeta worms and certain other invertebrate
An invertebrate is an animal without a backbone. The group includes 97% of all animal species – all animals except those in the chordate subphylum Vertebrata .Invertebrates form a paraphyletic group...

s and vertebrate
Vertebrates are animals that are members of the subphylum Vertebrata . Vertebrates are the largest group of chordates, with currently about 58,000 species described. Vertebrates include the jawless fishes, bony fishes, sharks and rays, amphibians, reptiles, mammals, and birds...

s. Its purpose is to receive and store sperm
Female sperm storage
Female sperm storage is a biological process in which sperm cells transferred to a female during mating are temporarily retained within a specific part of the reproductive tract before the oocyte, or egg, is fertilized...

 from the male, and can sometimes be the site of fertilization
Fertilisation is the fusion of gametes to produce a new organism. In animals, the process involves the fusion of an ovum with a sperm, which eventually leads to the development of an embryo...

 when the oocyte
An oocyte, ovocyte, or rarely ocyte, is a female gametocyte or germ cell involved in reproduction. In other words, it is an immature ovum, or egg cell. An oocyte is produced in the ovary during female gametogenesis. The female germ cells produce a primordial germ cell which undergoes a mitotic...

s are ready.

Some species have multiple spermathecae, as seen in earthworms, where four pairs of spermathecae are present – one pair each in the 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th segments. They receive and store the spermatozoa of another earthworm during copulation. They are lined with epithelium
Epithelium is one of the four basic types of animal tissue, along with connective tissue, muscle tissue and nervous tissue. Epithelial tissues line the cavities and surfaces of structures throughout the body, and also form many glands. Functions of epithelial cells include secretion, selective...

 and are variable in shape; some are thin, heavily coiled tubes, others are vague outpocketings from the main reproductive tract. It is one of the many variations in sexual reproduction.

An apiculturist
Beekeeping is the maintenance of honey bee colonies, commonly in hives, by humans. A beekeeper keeps bees in order to collect honey and other products of the hive , to pollinate crops, or to produce bees for sale to other beekeepers...

 may examine the spermatheca of a queen bee
Queen bee
The term queen bee is typically used to refer to an adult, mated female that lives in a honey bee colony or hive; she is usually the mother of most, if not all, the bees in the hive. The queens are developed from larvae selected by worker bees and specially fed in order to become sexually mature...

 to find out whether it has received sperm
The term sperm is derived from the Greek word sperma and refers to the male reproductive cells. In the types of sexual reproduction known as anisogamy and oogamy, there is a marked difference in the size of the gametes with the smaller one being termed the "male" or sperm cell...

from a male.
The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.