Worker policing persists in a hopelessly queenless honey bee colony (Apis mellifera)
- Cite this article as:
- Châline, N., Martin, S.J. & Ratnieks, F.L.W. Insect. Soc. (2004) 51: 113. doi:10.1007/s00040-003-0708-y
In queenright colonies of Apis mellifera, worker policing normally eliminates worker-laid eggs thereby preventing worker reproduction. However, in queenless colonies that have failed to rear a replacement queen, worker reproduction is normal. Worker policing is switched off, many workers have active ovaries and lay eggs, and the colony rears a last batch of male brood before dying out. Here we report a colony which, when hopelessly queenless, did not stop policing although a high proportion of workers had active ovaries (12.6%) and many eggs were laid. However, all these eggs and also worker-laid eggs transferred from another colony were policed. This unusual pattern was repeated eight weeks later by a second queenless colony made using worker bees from the same mother colony, which strongly suggests genetic determination.