Journal of Ethology

, Volume 28, Issue 1, pp 61-66

First online:

Male production by non-natal workers in the bumblebee, Bombus deuteronymus (Hymenoptera: Apidae)

  • Jun-ichi TakahashiAffiliated withCenter for Ecological Research, Kyoto UniversityLaboratory of Systematic Entomology, Department of Ecology and Systematics, Hokkaido UniversityHoneybee Science Research Center, Tamagawa University Email author 
  • , Stephen J. MartinAffiliated withDepartment of Animal and Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield
  • , Masao OnoAffiliated withHoneybee Science Research Center, Tamagawa University
  • , Isamu ShimizuAffiliated withCenter for Ecological Research, Kyoto University

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Social insect societies are considered to be composed of many extremely cooperative individuals. While workers are traditionally believed to behave altruistically, recent studies have revealed behaviors that are more selfish. One such example is intraspecific social parasitism, where workers invade conspecific colonies and produce male offspring that are reared by unrelated host workers. Such intraspecific parasitism has been reported in honeybees (Apis cerana, and A. florea) and “semi-wild” bumblebee colonies of Bombus terrestris. Here we report on intraspecific social parasitism by workers in “wild” colonies of the bumblebee B. deuteronymus. Three of the 11 B. deuteronymus colonies studied were invaded by non-natal workers, of which 75% became reproductive and produced 19% of the adult males. The invading non-natal workers produced significantly more males than resident natal workers and the non-natal brood was not discriminated against by the natal workers.


Bombus deuteronymus Bumblebee Social parasitism Social Hymenoptera Worker reproduction