Free Access
Volume 31, Number 2, March-April 2000
Taxonomy and Evolutionary biology of the Honeybees
Page(s) 223 - 233
DOI: 10.1051/apido:2000118

Apidologie 31 (2000) 223-233

Clustering of related workers in the honeybee colony (Apis mellifera L.): adaptive process or inevitable pattern?

Robin F.A. Moritza - Robin M. Creweb - H. Randall Hepburnc

aInstitut für Zoologie, Molekulare Ökologie, Martin-Luther Universität Halle-Wittenberg, Kröllwitzer Str. 44, 06099 Halle/Saale, Germany
bDepartment of Zoology and Entomology, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, 0012, South Africa
cDepartment of Zoology and Entomology, Rhodes University, Grahamstown, 6140, South Africa


Individually labeled freshly emerged honeybee workers (Apis mellifera) from three unrelated source colonies were introduced into five host colonies. The location of the workers during their first eight days of life was monitored. Workers from the same source colony tended to be found more often in the same area of the comb than workers from a different source colony. Although kin recognition among workers cannot be ruled out as a possible mechanism for this pattern, the results can be more readily explained by phenomena related to self-organized pattern formation, individual behavioral threshold variability and genetically determined worker task specialization.

Keywords: Apis mellifera / kin recognition / spatial distribution / task specialization / pattern formation

Correspondence and reprints: Robin F.A. Moritz

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