Behavior Genetics

, Volume 18, Issue 4, pp 425–438 | Cite as

Kin recognition in the sweat bee,Lasioglossum zephyrum

  • Les Greenberg


Recognition of kin in sweat bees is dependent upon social learning. Shortly after emergence as adults, bees learn the odors of nestmates, normally relatives, and use this knowledge to keep nonnestmate (and therefore nonkin) bees out. The odors are heritable so that once a bee learns the odors of its kin, it can recognize other kin that it has never met before. An individual guard bee does not seem to use knowledge of self as a reference. Larval learning of odors, common rearing of offspring, maternal inheritance, and inbreeding effects are not sufficient to explain the recognition of unfamiliar relatives. Individual guard bees can discriminate between close and distant relatives. Kin recognition may be a secondary or serendipitous use of odors that originally evolved for the recognition of mates and nest entrances.

Key Words

kin recognition social learning heritable odors nestmate bees 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Les Greenberg
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of EntomologyUniversity of KansasLawrence
  2. 2.Department of EntomologyTexas A&M UniversityCollege Station

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