Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 7, Issue 4, pp 287–291 | Cite as

Sex ratios in bumble bee colonies: Complications due to orphaning?

  • Robin E. Owen
  • F. H. Rodd
  • R. C. Plowright


Highly male-biased investment ratios (1:2.86, F:M, biomass wet weight) were found among reproductives reared by 32 Bombus terricola colonies set out in the field and 35 B. melanopygus colonies held in laboratory confinement. The numerical sex ratios were almost identical for the two species (1 queen to 6.1 males). Most of the males were produced early in the season by small weak colonies. It is argued that in a population where some colonies are ‘orphaned’ and rear only males, female-biased sex ratios are expected among the surviving queen-producing colonies.


Investment Ratio Weak Coloni Laboratory Confinement 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Alexander RD (1974) The evolution of social behavior. Annu Rev Ecol Syst 5:325–383Google Scholar
  2. Alexander RD, Sherman PW (1977) Local mate competition and parental investment in social insects. Science 196:494–500Google Scholar
  3. Benford FA (1978) Fisher's theory of the sex ratio applied to the social hymenoptera. J Theor Biol 72:701–727Google Scholar
  4. Herbers JM (1979) The evolution of sex-ratio strategies in Hymenopteran societies. Am Nat 114:818–834Google Scholar
  5. Macnair MR (1978) An ESS for the sex ratio in animals with particular reference to the social hymenoptera. J Theor Biol 70:449–459Google Scholar
  6. Noonan KM (1978) Sex ratio of parental investment in colonies of the social wasp Polistes fuscatus. Science 199:1354–1356Google Scholar
  7. Oster G, Wilson EO (1978) Caste and ecology in the social insects. Princeton University Press, PrincetonGoogle Scholar
  8. Oster G, Eshel I, Cohen D (1977) Worker-queen conflict and the evolution of social insects. Theor Pop Biol 12:49–85Google Scholar
  9. Owen RE, Plowright RC (1980) Abdominal pile color dimorphism in the bumble bee Bombus melanopygus. J Hered 71:241–247Google Scholar
  10. Plowright RC (1967) On the distribution of bumblebees in Norfolk. Trans Norfolk Norwich Nat Soc 21:48–88Google Scholar
  11. Plowright RC, Jay SC (1966) Rearing bumble bee colonies in captivity. J Apic Res 5:155–165Google Scholar
  12. Pomeroy N (1979) Brood bionomics of Bombus ruderatus in New Zealand (Hymenoptera: Apidae). Can Entomol 111:865–874Google Scholar
  13. Siegal S (1956) Nonparametric statistics for the behavioral sciences. mcGraw-Hill, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  14. Trivers RL, Hare H (1976) Haplodiploidy and the evolution of the social insects. Science 191:249–263Google Scholar
  15. Wade MJ (1979) The evolution of social interactions by family selection. Am Nat 113:399–417Google Scholar
  16. Webb MC (1961) The biology of the bumblebees of a limited area in eastern Nebraska. PhD dissertation, University of NebraskaGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1980

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robin E. Owen
    • 1
  • F. H. Rodd
    • 1
  • R. C. Plowright
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of ZoologyUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada

Personalised recommendations