Free Access
Volume 25, Number 1, 1994
Page(s) 38 - 48
Apidologie 25 (1994) 38-48
DOI: 10.1051/apido:19940105

Reproductive cycling and hierarchical competition in Cape honeybees, Apis mellifera capensis Esch

H.R. Hepburn

Department of Zoology and Entomology, Rhodes University, PO Box 94, 6140 Grahamstown, South Africa

Abstract - On queen loss, Cape honeybees may requeen from the brood of a queen, an egg-laying worker or it may remain as a laying worker colony. These 3 possibilities are reached through 8 different social developmental pathways. The fate of any individual queenless colony varies with brood status and the rates and kinds of worker differentiation that occur on queen loss. Worker differentiation is widespread and includes ovarial and pheromonal development; but only few individuals actually reach "surrogate queen" status. The complex pathways that occur in queenless Cape colonies seem to be determined both by social context and hierarchical competition among workers.

Key words: Apis mellifera capensis / reproduction / surrogate queen / egg-laying worker / hierarchy / pheromone