The Genetics of Division of Labour in Honey Bee Colonies

Robert E. Page, Gene E. Robinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

206 Scopus citations


This chapter describes genetic characteristics that are unique to the hymenoptera, including honeybees, and presents how these characteristics, when combined with the mating behavior of queens, affect the genetic “structure” and populations of honeybee colonies. The chapter presents results that demonstrate the fundamental elements of division of labor among workers and suggests how colony-level natural selection adapts populations of colonies to their environment via changes in the behavior of individual, effectively sterile workers. It also presents theoretical models that suggest that some properties of division of labor, such as the occurrence of labor specialists and the ability to reallocate labor in the face of a changing environment, are a consequence of self-organization that may be intrinsic to many types of complex systems, including insect colonies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)117-169
Number of pages53
JournalAdvances in Insect Physiology
Issue numberC
StatePublished - Jan 1 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Insect Science


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