Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 10, Issue 4, pp 265-270

First online:

Kin structure and the swarming behavior of the honey bee Apis mellifera

  • Wayne M. GetzAffiliated withDivision of Biological Control and Department of Entomological Sciences and Plant Pathology, University of California
  • , Dorothea BrücknerAffiliated withZoologisches Institut, Universität München
  • , Thomas R. ParisianAffiliated withDepartment of Entomology, University of California

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Experimental hives obtained from cordovan queens that were instrumentally inseminated with semen from one cordovan and one Italian drone were set up and allowed to swarm. Cordovan provides a resessive genetic marker system (cuticle color) so that the workers from the cordovan and Italian male lines are distinguishable. Our results show that these patrilineal worker groups segregate non-randomly during colony fission and this segregation cannot be explained by observed age structure. Evidence of innate kin recognition in bees has been previously established. We argue that kin recognition could be responsible for the observed non-random grouping of kin during swarming.