Kin recognition and virgin queen acceptance by worker honey bees (Apis mellifera L.)

Robert E. Page, Erich H. Erickson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Virgin honey bee queens provide genetic cues that can be used by workers to assess genetic relationships. We found that groups of caged workers, taken directly from colonies containing a functional queen and two patrilineal subfamilies, could distinguish among queens of different degrees of kinship. The first virgin queen that an individual worker encountered was assessed by that worker on the basis of her kinship similarity to the individual interacting worker or her similarity to the caged group. When a second virgin queen was introduced, she was assessed by workers based on her similarity to the first virgin queen. The outcome of the ensuing fight to the death among the two introduced queens was dependent upon their relationship to each other. The resident queen had a strong advantage when the virgin queens were from different subfamilies but the outcome was nearly even when they were patrilineal sisters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1061-1069
Number of pages9
JournalAnimal Behaviour
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1986

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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