Reproduction by worker honey bees (Apis mellifera L.)

Summary

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.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

  1. Butler CG (1957) The control of ovary development in worker honeybees (Apis mellifera). Experientia 13:256–257

    Google Scholar 

  2. Butler CG (1976) The honey-bee colony — life history. In: Dadant, Sons (eds) The hive and the honey bee. Dadant & Sons, Hamilton, Illinois, pp 39–74

    Google Scholar 

  3. Butler CG, Fairey EM (1963) The role of the queen in preventing oogenesis in worker honeybees. J Apic Res 2:14–18

    Google Scholar 

  4. Contel EPB, Kerr WE (1976) Origin of males in Melipona subnitida estimated from data of an isozymic polymorphic system. Genetica 46:271–277

    Google Scholar 

  5. Crow JF, Kimura M (1970) An introduction to population genetics theory. Burgess Publishing, Minneapolis, Minnesota

    Google Scholar 

  6. Crozier RH (1979) Genetics of sociality. In: Herman HR (ed) Social insects, vol 1. Academic Press, New York, pp 223–286

    Google Scholar 

  7. De Groot AP, Voogd S (1954) On the ovary development in queenless worker bees (Apis mellifica L.). Experientia 10:384–385

    Google Scholar 

  8. Delaplane KS, Harbo JR (1987) Drone production by young versus old worker honeybees in queenless colonies. Apidologie: 18:115–120

    Google Scholar 

  9. Evers CA, Seeley TD (1986) Kin discrimination and aggression in honey bee colonies with laying workers. Anim Behav 34:924–944

    Google Scholar 

  10. Free JB, Williams IH (1974) Factors determining food storage and brood rearing in honeybee (Apis mellifera L.) comb. J Entomol [Am] 49:47–63

    Google Scholar 

  11. Frumhoff PC, Schneider S (1987) The social consequences of honey bee polyandry: the effects of kinship on worker interactions within colonies. Anim Behav 35:255–262

    Google Scholar 

  12. Fukuda H, Ohtani T (1977) Survival and life span of drone honeybees. Res Popul Ecol 19:51–68

    Google Scholar 

  13. Hamilton WD (1964a) The genetical theory of social behavior, I. J Theor Biol 7:1–16

    Google Scholar 

  14. Hamilton WD (1964b) The genetical theory of social behavior II. J Theor Biol 7:17–52

    Google Scholar 

  15. Hamilton WD (1972) Altruism and related phenomena mainly in social insects. Ann Rev Ecol Syst 3:193–232

    Google Scholar 

  16. Harbo JR (1976) The effect of insemination on the egg-laying behavior of honey bees. Ann Entomol Soc Am 69:1036–1038

    Google Scholar 

  17. Jay SC, Nelson EV (1973) The effects of laying worker honeybees (Apis mellifera L.) and their brood on the ovary development of other worker honeybees. Can J Zool 51:629–632

    Google Scholar 

  18. Kropáčová S, Haslbachová H (1969) The development of ovaries in worker honeybees in a queenright colony. J Apic Res 8:57–64

    Google Scholar 

  19. Kropáčová S, Haslbachová H (1970) The development of ovaries in worker honeybees in queenright colonies examined before and after swarming. J Apic Res 9:65–70

    Google Scholar 

  20. Kubišová S, Haslbachová H (1978) Effects of larval extracts on the development of ovaries in caged worker honeybees. Acta Ent Bohemoslov 75:9–14

    Google Scholar 

  21. Kubišová S, Haslbachová H, Vrkoč J (1982) Effects of fractions of larval extracts on the development of ovaries in caged worker honey bees. Acta Ent Bohemoslov 79:334–340

    Google Scholar 

  22. Metcalf RA (1980) Sex ratios, parent-offspring conflict, and local competition for mates in the social wasps Polistes metricus and Polistes variatus. Am Nat 116:642–654

    Google Scholar 

  23. Metcalf RA, Whitt GS (1977) Intra-nest relatedness in the social wasp Polistes metricus: a genetic analysis. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 2:339–351

    Google Scholar 

  24. Michener CD (1974) The social behavior of the bees: a comparative study. Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts

    Google Scholar 

  25. Oster G, Eshel I, Cohen D (1977) Worker-queen conflict and the evolution of social insects. Theor Popul Biol 12:49–85

    Google Scholar 

  26. Page RE (1986) Sperm utilization in social insects. Ann Rev Entomol 31:297–320

    Google Scholar 

  27. Page RE, Metcalf RA (1984) A population investment sex ratio for the honey bee (Apis mellifera L.). Am Nat 124:680–702

    Google Scholar 

  28. Perepelova L (1929) Laying workers, the ovipositing of the queens, and swarming. Bee Wld 10:69–71

    Google Scholar 

  29. Ruttner F, Hesse B (1981) Rassenspezifische Unterschiede in Ovarentwicklung und Eiablage von weisellosen Arbeiterinnen der Honigbiene Apis mellifera L. Apidologie 12:159–183

    Google Scholar 

  30. Sakagami SF (1954) Occurrence of an aggressive behavior in queenless hives, with considerations on the social organization of honeybee. Insectes Soc 1:331–343

    Google Scholar 

  31. Sakagami SF (1958) The false-queen: fourth adjustive response in dequeened honeybee colonies. Behaviour 13:280–295

    Google Scholar 

  32. Sokal RR, Rohlf FJ (1981) Biometry. Freeman, San Francisco

    Google Scholar 

  33. Trivers RL, Hare H (1976) Haplodiploidy and the evolution of the social insects. Science 191:249–263

    Google Scholar 

  34. Tucker KW (1986) Visible mutants. In: Rinderer TE (ed) Bee Genetics and Breeding. Academic Press, Orlando, Florida, pp 57–87

    Google Scholar 

  35. Velthuis HHW (1970) Ovarian development in Apis mellifera worker bees. Ent Exp & Appl 13:377–394

    Google Scholar 

  36. Velthuis HHW (1985) The honeybee queen and the social organization of her colony. In: Hölldobler B, Lindauer M (eds) Experimental behavioral ecology and sociobiology. Sinauer Associates, Sunderland, Massachusetts

    Google Scholar 

  37. Velthuis HHW, Verheijen FJ, Gottenbos AJ (1965) Laying worker honey bee: similarities to the queen. Nature (London) 207:1314

    Google Scholar 

  38. Voogd S (1955) Inhibition of ovary development in worker bees by extraction fluid of the queen. Experientia 11:181–182

    Google Scholar 

  39. Voogd S (1956) The influence of a queen on the ovary development in worker bees. Experientia 12:199–201

    Google Scholar 

  40. Wilson EO (1971) The insect societies. Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Page, R.E., Erickson, E.H. Reproduction by worker honey bees (Apis mellifera L.). Behav Ecol Sociobiol 23, 117–126 (1988). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00299895

Download citation

Keywords

  • Genetic Marker
  • Genetic Variability
  • Reproductive Behavior
  • Oviposition Behavior
  • Subfamily Member