Reproduction by worker honey bees (Apis mellifera L.)

R. E. Page, E. H. Erickson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

149 Scopus citations


Genetic markers were used to study the reproductive behavior of worker honey bees. Five experiments were conducted that demonstrate the significance of worker reproduction. Biases were found in the egg-laying success of workers belonging to different subfamilies within queenless colonies, however, members of all subfamilies laid eggs. These biases were probably not a consequence of direct reproductive competition among subfamily members but most likely represent genetic variability for the timing of the onset of oviposition. Workers preferentially oviposit in drone-sized cells, demonstrating a caste-specific adaptation for oviposition behavior. Drone brood production is highly synchronous within colonies and can result in the production of more than 6000 drones before colonies die. Workers reproduce in queenright colonies but at a very low frequency.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)117-126
Number of pages10
JournalBehavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1 1988

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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