Ecological Research

, Volume 23, Issue 6, pp 937–942 | Cite as

Male parentage and queen mating frequency in the bumblebee Bombus ignitus (Hymenoptera: bombinae)

  • Jun-ichi Takahashi
  • Mitsuru Itoh
  • Isamu Shimizu
  • Masato Ono
Original Article


Kin selection theory predicts conflict between queens and workers in the social insect colony with respect to male production. This conflict arises from the haplodiploid system of sex determination in Hymenoptera that creates relatedness asymmetries in which workers are more closely related to the sons of other workers than to those of the queen. In annual hymenopteran societies that are headed by a single queen, the mating frequency of the queen is the only factor that affects the colony kin structure. Therefore, we examined the mating structure of queens and the parentage of males in a monogynous bumblebee, Bombus ignitus, using DNA microsatellites. In the seven colonies that were studied, B. ignitus queens mated once, thereby leading to the prediction of conflict between the queen and workers regarding male production. In each of the five queen-right colonies, the majority of the males (95%) were produced by the colony’s queen. In contrast, workers produced approximately 47% of all the males in two queenless colonies. These results suggest that male production in B. ignitus is a conflict between queen and workers.


Worker reproduction Relatedness Kin conflict Bombus ignites Social hymenoptera 



We sincerely thank Asada for kindly providing samples for this work. This study was supported by a Japan Society for the Promotion of Science research fellowship to J.T. This work was partially supported by a Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (B) of JSPS (17380038) for M. O.


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Copyright information

© The Ecological Society of Japan 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jun-ichi Takahashi
    • 1
    • 2
  • Mitsuru Itoh
    • 2
  • Isamu Shimizu
    • 1
  • Masato Ono
    • 2
  1. 1.Center for Ecological ResearchKyoto UniversityOtsuJapan
  2. 2.Laboratory of Entomology, Graduate School of AgricultureTamagawa UniversityMachida, TokyoJapan

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