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Parasitic Cape honeybee workers, Apis mellifera capensis, evade policing

Martin, S.J., Beekman, M., Wossler, T.C. and Ratnieks, F.L.W. (2002) Parasitic Cape honeybee workers, Apis mellifera capensis, evade policing. Nature, 415 (6868). pp. 163-165. ISSN 0028-0836

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Abstract

Relocation of the Cape honeybee, Apis mellifera capensis, by bee-keepers from southern to northern South Africa in 1990 has caused widespread death of managed African honeybee, A. m. scutellata, colonies. Apis mellifera capensis worker bees are able to lay diploid, female eggs without mating by means of automictic thelytoky (meiosis followed by fusion of two meiotic products to restore egg diploidy), whereas workers of other honeybee subspecies are able to lay only haploid, male eggs. The A. m. capensis workers, which are parasitizing and killing A. m. scutellata colonies in northern South Africa, are the asexual offspring of a single, original worker in which the small amount of genetic variation observed is due to crossing over during meiosis (P. Kryger, personal communication). Here we elucidate two principal mechanisms underlying this parasitism. Parasitic A. m. capensis workers activate their ovaries in host colonies that have a queen present (queenright colonies), and they lay eggs that evade being killed by other workers (worker policing)—the normal fate of worker-laid eggs in colonies with a queen. This unique parasitism by workers is an instance in which a society is unable to control the selfish actions of its members.

Item Type: Article
Copyright, Publisher and Additional Information: © 2002 Macmillan Magazines Ltd
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: 20 Sep 2004
Last Modified: 06 Jun 2014 06:46
Status: Published
Refereed: Yes
Identification Number: 10.1038/415163a
URI: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/98

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