, Volume 55, Issue 4, pp 382-386
Date: 05 Jul 2008

Nestmate recognition by guards of the Asian hive bee Apis cerana

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When a honey bee colony becomes queenless and broodless its only reproductive option is for some of its workers to produce sons before the colony perishes. However, for this to be possible the policing of worker-laid eggs must be curtailed and this provides the opportunity for queenless colonies to be reproductively parasitized by workers from other nests. Such reproductive parasitism is known to occur in Apis florea and A. cerana. Microsatellite analyses of worker samples have demonstrated that the proportion of non-natal workers present in an A. cerana colony declines after a colony is made queenless. This observation suggests that queenless A. cerana colonies may be more vigilant in repelling potentially parasitic non-natal workers than queenright colonies. We compared rates of nestmate and non-nestmate acceptance in both queenright and queenless A. cerana colonies using standard assays and showed that there is no statistical difference between the proportion of non-nestmate workers that are rejected in queenless and queenright colonies. We also show that, contrary to earlier reports, A. cerana guards are able to discriminate nestmate workers from non-nestmates, and that they reject significantly more non-nestmate workers than nestmate workers.