Free Access
Volume 29, Number 1-2, 1998
Colony integration
Page(s) 23 - 45
Apidologie 29 (1998) 23-45
DOI: 10.1051/apido:19980102

Colony integration and reproductive conflict in honey bees

P.K. Visscher

Department of Entomology, University of California, Riverside, CA 92521, USA

Abstract - Honey bee colonies, although highly cooperative, are composed of genetically distinct individuals with differing genetic payoffs from alternative allocations of colony resources among potential reproductive individuals. Therefore conflicts among colony members are expected. This paper analyzes the empirical evidence of these conflicts in sex ratio, nepotism in queen rearing, and worker production of males. Sex ratio conflict is expected to be minimal and hard to measure in honey bees, but behavioral studies might provide insights. Nepotism in queen rearing has been investigated by several studies. The weight of the evidence suggests that weak nepotism does occur. This paper provides a reanalysis of the data of one controversial study and compares the methods and results of others. Mixed negative and positive findings may be due to certain methodological differences, or to polymorphism for this trait. Worker laying is much more common than has long been thought, but nonetheless nearly all adult drones derive from the queen, because worker policing removes nearly all worker-laid eggs. Policing, both of eggs laid and worker ovary development, also may be responsible for complete sterility of most workers. Thus reproductive cooperation in honey bees is underlain by a low level of active conflict. © Inra/DIB/AGIB/Elsevier, Paris

Key words: kin recognition / nepotism / worker laying / social behavior / Apis mellifera