Reproduction by worker honey bees (Apis mellifera L.)
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Genetic markers were used to study the reproductive behavior of worker honey bees. Five experiments were conducted that demonstrate the significance of worker reproduction. Biases were found in the egg-laying success of workers belonging to different subfamilies within queenless colonies, however, members of all subfamilies laid eggs. These biases were probably not a consequence of direct reproductive competition among subfamily members but most likely represent genetic variability for the timing of the onset of oviposition. Workers preferentially oviposit in drone-sized cells, demonstrating a caste-specific adaptation for oviposition behavior. Drone brood production is highly synchronous within colonies and can result in the production of more than 6000 drones before colonies die. Workers reproduce in queenright colonies but at a very low frequency.
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