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Working-class royalty: bees beat the caste system

Wenseleers, T., Ratnieks, F.L.W., Ribeiro, M.D., Alves, D.D. and Imperatriz-Fonseca, V.L. (2005) Working-class royalty: bees beat the caste system. Biology Letters, 1 (2). pp. 125-128. ISSN 1744-957X


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The struggle among social classes or castes is well known in humans. Here, we show that caste inequality similarly affects societies of ants, bees and wasps, where castes are morphologically distinct and workers have greatly reduced reproductive potential compared with queens. In social insects, an individual normally has no control over its own fate, whether queen or worker, as this is socially determined during rearing. Here, for the first time, we quantify a strategy for overcoming social control. In the stingless bee Schwarziana quadripunctata, some individuals reared in worker cells avoid a worker fate by developing into fully functional dwarf queens.

Item Type: Article
Copyright, Publisher and Additional Information: © 2005 The Royal Society. Reproduced in accordance with the publisher's self-archiving policy.
Keywords: caste conflict, social insects, stingless bees, Schwarziana quadripunctata
Institution: The University of Sheffield
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Science (Sheffield) > School of Biological Sciences (Sheffield) > Department of Animal and Plant Sciences (Sheffield)
Depositing User: Repository Officer
Date Deposited: 15 Jun 2006
Last Modified: 06 Jun 2014 07:30
Published Version: http://0-www.journals.royalsoc.ac.uk.wam.leeds.ac....
Status: Published
Publisher: The Royal Society
Refereed: Yes
Identification Number: 10.1098/rsbl.2004.0281
URI: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/1301

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