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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) 203 - 211

Apidologie 33 (2002) 203-211
DOI: 10.1051/apido:2002004

Egg laying and egg removal by workers are positively correlated in queenright Cape honeybee colonies (Apis mellifera capensis)

Christian W.W. Pirka, Peter Neumannb and H. Randall Hepburna

a  Rhodes University, Department of Zoology and Entomology, 6140 Grahamstown, South Africa
b  Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg, Institut für Zoologie / Molekulare Ökologie, Kröllwitzerstr. 44, 06099 Halle/Saale, Germany

(Received 12 November 2001; revised 14 December 2001; accepted 24 January 2002)

Queenright Apis mellifera capensis colonies exhibit egg laying by workers in periods of both low and high egg removal. To reproduce workers should lay in times of low egg removal to increase survival of their eggs. Were this so, a negative correlation between egg laying and removal would be expected. Egg removal rates for queen (N=240) and worker-laid (N=240) eggs and egg laying by workers were tested in queenright colonies. Worker-laid eggs were removed significantly faster than queen-laid eggs; but significant differences in egg laying by workers occurred among colonies. Egg laying and removal are positively correlated and co-dependent. Egg removal appears triggered by the number of worker-laid eggs. Intercolonial variation for laying worker egg number and egg removal rates may explain the phenotypic variation in worker reproduction in queenright Cape honeybee colonies.

Key words: Apis mellifera capensis / egg removal / laying workers / worker reproduction / worker policing

Correspondence and reprints: Christian W.W. Pirk

© INRA, EDP Sciences, DIB, AGIB 2002