Honey bee colonies regulate queen reproductive traits by controlling which queens survive to adulthood
- 417 Downloads
The production of new queens in honey bee colonies is one of the most important determinants of reproductive success, and it involves cooperative behavior among hundreds or thousands of workers. Colony members are generally expected to benefit by optimizing the reproductive traits of prospective replacement queens, but potential conflicts of interest among colony members could result in suboptimal queens. We studied the degree to which colonies regulate adult queen traits by controlling access to developing queens that survived from pupation to adulthood. We also searched for evidence of strong conflict among patrilines by comparing the contribution of patrilines to new queens and new workers, although we found no evidence for the existence of significantly queen-biased patrilines or for any association between patriline contribution to new queens and queen traits. However, adult queens emerging from cells accessible to workers were larger in terms of compared to adult queens emerging from cells that were not accessible to workers. These results suggest that colonies regulate queen quality traits by curtailing low-quality queens from fully developing, which is further evidence that cooperation predominates over potential conflict within honey bee colonies.
KeywordsSocial physiology Colony-level selection Royal cheats Queen reproductive potential
Shiquita Toney assisted with the fieldwork and data collection, and Joel Caren helped with genotyping the workers and queens. This material is based on work that is supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, under Award Number 2014-67013-21725, as well as to DRT by the NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
- Brouwers EVM, Ebert R, Beetsma J (1987) Behavioral and physiological aspects of nurse bees in relation to the composition of larval food during caste differentiation in the honeybee. J Apic Res 26:11–23Google Scholar
- Dedej S, Hartfelder K, Aumeier P, Rosenkranz P, Engels W (1998) Caste determination is a sequential process: effect of larval age at grafting on ovariole number, hind leg size and cephalic volatiles in the honey bee (Apis mellifera carnica). J Apic Res 37:183–190Google Scholar
- Evans JD, Schwarz RS, Chen YP, Budge G, Cornman RS, De La Rua P, De Miranda JR, Foret S, Foster L, Gauthier L, Genersch E, Gisder S, Jarosch A, Kucharski R, Lopez D, Lun CM, Moritz RFA, Maleszka R, Muñoz I, Pinto MA (2013) Standard methodologies for molecular research in Apis mellifera. In: Dietemann V, Ellis JD, Neumann P (eds) The COLOSS BEEBOOK, Volume I: standard methods for Apis mellifera research Journal of Apicultural Research 52(4). doi: 10.3896/IBRA.22.214.171.124
- Fischer F, Maul V (1991) Untersuchungen zu aufzuchtbedingten königinnenmerkmalen. (An inquiry into the characteristics of queens depending on queen rearing). Apidologie 22:444–446Google Scholar
- Fletcher DJC (1978) Vibration of queen cells by worker honeybees and its relation to the issue of swarms with virgin queens. J Apic Res 17:14–26Google Scholar
- Gary NE, Morse RA (1962) The events following queen cell construction in honeybee colonies. J Apic Res 1:3–5Google Scholar
- Winston ML (1987) The biology of the honey bee. Harvard University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
- Woyke J (1971) Correlations between the age at which honeybee brood was grafted, characteristics of the resultant queens, and results of insemination. J Apic Res 10:45–55Google Scholar