Attraction and Repellence of Workers by the Honeybee Queen (Apis mellifera L.)

Authors

  • Robin F. A. Moritz,

    1. Institut für Zoologie, Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg, Halle/Saale; Department of Zoology and Entomology, University of Pretoria, Pretoria; Department of Zoology and Entomology, Rhodes University, Grahamstown
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  • Robin M. Crewe,

    1. Institut für Zoologie, Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg, Halle/Saale; Department of Zoology and Entomology, University of Pretoria, Pretoria; Department of Zoology and Entomology, Rhodes University, Grahamstown
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  • H. Randall Hepburn

    1. Institut für Zoologie, Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg, Halle/Saale; Department of Zoology and Entomology, University of Pretoria, Pretoria; Department of Zoology and Entomology, Rhodes University, Grahamstown
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Robin F. A. Moritz, Institut für Zoologie, Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg, Kröllwitzerstr. 44, D–06099 Halle/Saale, Germany. E-mail: r.moritz@zoologie.uni-halle.de

Abstract

The spatial distribution of worker honeybees in colonies of two African subspecies (Apis mellifera capensis and Apis mellifera scutellata), as well as their natural hybrids, was determined in five observation colonies, each containing one frame. The queens were allowed to roam freely throughout the hive during the initial phase of the experiment, and were observed on both sides of the frame in all colonies. In the second phase of the experiment the queen was caged on one side of the frame in three of the observation colonies, the other two colonies serving as controls. Queen caging significantly affected the distribution of worker bees, with more A. m. scutellata workers being attracted to the queen and more A. m. capensis worker bees being repelled by the presence of the queen. The hybrid workers were also repelled, but to a lesser extent. Queens thus not only attract workers to form a retinue or during swarming but also repel workers in the nest. Evasion of the reproductive suppression by the queen pheromones may be a typical behavior for workers with a high reproductive potential.

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