Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 32, Issue 3, pp 191–198

Egg-laying, egg-removal, and ovary development by workers in queenright honey bee colonies

  • Francis L.W. Ratnieks

DOI: 10.1007/BF00173777

Cite this article as:
Ratnieks, F.L. Behav Ecol Sociobiol (1993) 32: 191. doi:10.1007/BF00173777


The study investigates whether worker policing via the selective removal of worker-laid male eggs occurs in normal honey bee colonies with a queen. Queenright honey bee colonies were set up with the queen below a queen excluder. Frames of worker brood and drone comb were placed above the queen excluder. Daily inspections of the drone frames revealed the presence of a few eggs, presumably laid by workers, at a rate of 1 egg per 16000 drone cells. 85% of these eggs were removed within 1 day and only 2% hatched. Dissections of workers revealed that about 1 worker in 10000 had a fully developed egg in her body. These data show that worker egg-laying and worker policing are both normal, though rare, in queenright honey bee colonies, and provide further confirmation of the worker policing hypothesis.

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Francis L.W. Ratnieks
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of EntomologyUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA

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