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Volume 36, Number 3, July-September 2005
Page(s) 413 - 419
Published online 07 July 2005
Apidologie 36 (2005) 413-419
DOI: 10.1051/apido:2005030

Reproductive dominance among honeybee workers in experimental groups of Apis mellifera capensis

Ute E. Simona, Robin F.A. Moritza, b and Robin M. Creweb

a  Martin-Luther, Universität Halle, Wittenberg, Institut für Zoologie, Hoher Weg 4, 06099 Halle, Germany
b  University of Pretoria, Department of Zoology and Entomology, 0002 Pretoria, South Africa

(Receveid 20 July 2004 - revised 10 December 2004 - accepted 16 December 2004; Published online: 7 July 2005)

Abstract - The fitness benefits of becoming a laying worker in a queenless social insect colony are high. Theoretical models predict that these benefits will lead to conflict among workers of different subfamilies in orphaned polyandrous or polygynous colonies of social insects. We studied the nature of this conflict among Apis mellifera capensis workers that were placed in small experimental groups without a queen. Characters directly related to reproductive dominance such as the queen substance (9-ODA) content of the mandibular glands, the activation of ovaries, and the production of eggs were recorded. Worker laid eggs were genotyped to measure the reproductive success of individual workers. There was a significant correlation between the amount of 9-ODA produced and ovary activation. Workers with fully developed ovaries (visible ova) who had laid eggs produced significantly more 9-ODA than similar workers with developed ovaries that had not laid eggs.

Key words: Apis mellifera capensis / worker reproduction / 9-ODA / individual fitness / DNA fingerprinting

Corresponding author: Robin F.A. Moritz

© INRA, DIB-AGIB, EDP Sciences 2005