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Volume 33, Number 2, March-April 2002
The Cape honeybee (Apis mellifera capensis). From laying workers to social parasites
Page(s) 193 - 202

Apidologie 33 (2002) 193-202
DOI: 10.1051/apido:2002009

Getting more than a fair share: nutrition of worker larvae related to social parasitism in the Cape honey bee Apis mellifera capensis

Johan N.M. Calisa, Willem J. Boota, Mike H. Allsoppb and Madeleine Beekmanc

a  Laboratory of Entomology, Wageningen University, PO Box 8031, 6700 EH Wageningen, The Netherlands
b  Honeybee Research Section, ARC-Plant Protection Research Institute, Private Bag X5017, Stellenbosch, 7599, South Africa
c  Schools of Biological Sciences & Mathematics and Statistics, University of Sydney, A12, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia

(Received 19 July 2001; revised 2 October 2001; accepted 21 November 2001)

Besides activation of ovaries and thelytokous reproduction of Cape workers, larval nutrition is an important aspect in parasitism of the African honey bee. When reared by workers of other subspecies, Cape larvae receive more food which is slightly more royal jelly-like. This results in worker-queen intermediates, with reduced pollen combs, enlarged spermathecae and higher numbers of ovarioles. The intermediates weigh more and develop faster than normal workers. The appearance of worker-queen intermediates probably affects parasitism of the African honey bee colonies by Cape workers. Different levels of larval nutrition resulting in less distinct caste differentiation may be important for the reproductive success of Cape workers in their own colonies. Similar processes, albeit less pronounced, may occur in colonies of other subspecies.

Key words: Apis mellifera capensis / A. m. scutellata / Cape honey bee / African honey bee / parasitism / larval feeding / caste determination

Correspondence and reprints: Johan N.M. Calis

© INRA, EDP Sciences, DIB, AGIB 2002