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Paternity frequency and maternity of males in some stingless bee species


K. A. Palmer. Present address: Zoological Institute, University of Copenhagen, Universitetsparken 15, Copenhagen, DK 2100, Denmark. Fax: + 45 35 32 13 00; E-mail:


In monogynous hymenopteran societies, the number of mates of a queen strongly influences the potential for conflict between workers and queens over the maternity of males. Queens always ‘prefer’ their own sons to sons of workers, regardless of queen mating frequency. When a queen mates once, workers are more closely related to, and therefore are expected to prefer, their own sons and then sons of sisters to sons of the queen. However, if effective paternity frequency exceeds 2, workers on average should prefer queen-produced males to males produced by their sisters. We studied the queen mating frequency of seven stingless bee species: the Mexican species Scaptotrigona mexicana, S. pectoralis and the Australian species Austroplebeia symei, Trigona clypearis, T. hockingsi, T. mellipes and T. sapiens. We then determined whether males arise from eggs laid by workers or queens in A. symei, T. clypearis, T. hockingsi and T. mellipes. We show that all seven species investigated are most likely singly mated and that the queen dominates reproduction. This indicates that the queen's mating frequency alone does not determine whether workers or the queen produces the males.