Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 18, Issue 6, pp 453-460

First online:

Kinship discrimination in queen rearing by honey bees (Apis mellifera)

  • P. Kirk VisscherAffiliated withDepartment of Entomology, Cornell University

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Apis mellifera workers are able to discriminate the degree of relatedness to themselves of larvae and to preferentially rear queens from related larvae. They employ cues of genetic, not environmental origin, and workers which have only experienced unrelated brood nonetheless prefer related (but novel) over unrelated (but familiar) larvae. Thus worker bees possess the sensory capabilities and behavioral responses that would enable them to maximize their individual inclusive fitness through nepotism in queen rearing.