, Volume 26, Issue 5, pp 315-323

Intracolonial behavioral variation in worker oviposition, oophagy, and larval care in queenless honey bee colonies

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Two experiments were performed to determine whether worker reproduction in queenless honey bee colonies is influenced by colony genetic structure. In Experiment 1, allozyme analyses of workers and worker-derived drone larvae revealed that in half the colonies, there were genotypic differences in worker egg-laying behavior (presumed to involve actual oviposition), but biases in drone production were not always consistent with biases in egg-laying behavior. In Experiment 2, allozyme analyses again revealed intracolonial differences in egg-laying behavior and in behavior patterns thought to involve oophagy and larval care. Data support the hypothesis of a genetic influence on this intracolonial behavioral variation. Differences in the genotypic distributions of worker-derived drones relative to workers engaged in oviposition behavior in queenless colonies may be a consequence of genetic variability for egg production or for treatment of eggs and larvae (possibly coupled with kin recognition), or both.