Free Access
Volume 38, Number 2, March-April 2007
Page(s) 171 - 180
Published online 16 January 2007
Apidologie 38 (2007) 171-180
DOI: 10.1051/apido:2006070

Effect of the queen on worker reproduction and new queen production in the bumble bee Bombus terrestris

Carlos Lopez-Vaamondea, b, Ruth M. Browna, Eric R. Lucasa, c, Jeffrey J.M. Perebooma, d, William C. Jordana and Andrew F.G. Bourkea, e

a  Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London, Regent's Park, London NW1 4RY, UK
b  INRA-Orléans, Laboratoire de Zoologie Forestière, BP 20619, Ardon, 45166 Olivet Cedex, France
c  Department of Biology, University College London, Wolfson House, 4 Stephenson Way, London NW1 2HE, UK
d  Centre for Research and Conservation, Royal Zoological Society of Antwerp, Koningin Astridplein 26, 2018 Antwerp, Belgium
e  School of Biological Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich NR4 7TJ, UK

(Received 23 May 2006 - Revised 18 August 2006 - Accepted 21 August 2006 - Published online 16 January 2007)

Abstract - We tested the hypotheses that a non-volatile pheromone inhibiting worker egg-laying and queen development produced by Bombus terrestris queens has effects transferable (a) from workers to other workers or larvae, or (b) on wax. We subdivided small, young colonies with a single mesh screen (Experiment 1) and larger, older colonies with a double mesh screen (Experiment 2). One treatment (in both experiments) involved the transfer of workers, and one treatment (in Experiment 2 only) involved the transfer of wax, from the queenright to the queenless compartments. Queenlessness induced significantly earlier onset of worker aggression (followed by egg-laying) in all treatments in both experiments, and significantly earlier queen production in all treatments in Experiment 2 (small colony sizes probably hindered queen production in Experiment 1). These findings suggested that the effects of B. terrestris queen pheromone are not transferable via workers or wax.

Key words: Bombus / caste determination / pheromone / queen signal / worker reproduction

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© INRA, DIB-AGIB, EDP Sciences 2007