Investigating queen influence on worker behaviour using comparisons of queenless and queenright workers

Research Article

Abstract

Female eusocial sweat bees are capable of behaving as queens or workers. Relatively few females become queens, and those that do can directly manipulate the reproductive behaviour of other females in the nest. We collected Lasioglossum (Dialictus) laevissimum workers from nests with and without queens (queenright and queenless nests, respectively) to investigate the influence queens exert on worker behaviour via direct manipulation. Overall, very few L. laevissimum workers (17%) had developed ovaries in Ontario, but queenright and queenless workers were equally likely to have developed ovaries and worn mandibles. However, queenless workers were more likely to be mated than queenright workers. These results suggest first, that queens inhibit egg-laying in most, but not all workers, and second, that queen behaviour during the first few days of workers’ adult lives exerts a lasting influence on worker behaviour. We also compared social traits of L. laevissimum and other Dialictus species using principal components analysis. A strong correlation between worker reproduction and male availability suggests that queen manipulation of the worker brood sex ratio has evolved as an indirect mechanism for queens to discourage worker reproduction.

Keywords

Halictinae Eusocial Queen influence Worker reproduction Sweat bee 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We thank David Clark, the Brock University gardener who originally found the nesting aggregation and whose gardening expertise keeps it thriving. We also thank Jess Vickruck, Lyndon Duff, and two anonymous reviewers for helpful comments on the manuscript. This project was funded by a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Discovery Grant to MHR and a NSERC Postgraduate scholarship to DNA.

Supplementary material

40_2018_619_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (54 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 54 KB)

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Copyright information

© International Union for the Study of Social Insects (IUSSI) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesBrock UniversitySt. CatharinesCanada

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