Life history strategy of the honey bee, Apis mellifera
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The feral honey bee queens (colonies) of central New York State (USA) show a K-type life history strategy. Their demographic characteristics include low early life mortality, low reproductive rate, long lifespan, high population stability and repeated reproductions. Identifying the life history strategy of these bees reveals the general pattern of selection for competitive ability, rather than productivity, which has shaped their societies. Selection for competitive power explains the adaptiveness (compared with alternatives found in many other insect societies) of the large perennial colonies, infrequent but expensive offspring, and efficient foraging which characterize the social organization of these bees.
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