Insectes Sociaux

, Volume 50, Issue 1, pp 59–61

Do policing honeybee (Apis mellifera) workers target eggs in drone comb?

  • L. A. Halling
  • B. P. Oldroyd
Research aricle

DOI: 10.1007/s000400300009

Cite this article as:
Halling, L. & Oldroyd, B. Insectes soc. (2003) 50: 59. doi:10.1007/s000400300009


Honey bee (Apis mellifera) workers police each other's reproduction by eating worker-laid eggs while preferentially leaving queen-laid eggs. Policing effort is presumably associated with biological costs, including those of search time and of errors of identification of eggs so that the wrong eggs are retained or eaten. Selection should act to minimise these costs. One way costs can be reduced is to focus policing effort on eggs that are most likely to be worker laid. We show here, in accordance with this prediction, that policing effort is focussed on drone cells where workers are more likely to lay eggs, rather than on worker cells which are more likely to contain queen-laid eggs.

Key words: Policing, drone cells, costs, honeybee, Apis mellifera.

Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Verlag, 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • L. A. Halling
    • 1
  • B. P. Oldroyd
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Biological Sciences A12, University of Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia, e-mail: