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Journal Article (Refereed)
January 2002

Parasitic Cape honeybee workers, Apis mellifera capensis, evade policing.

Martin, S 2002, 'Parasitic Cape honeybee workers, Apis mellifera capensis, evade policing. ', Nature.

Abstract

Relocation of the cape honeybee Apis mellifera capensis by bee-keepers from southern to northen South Africa in 1990 has caused widespread death of managed African honeybee A. m. scutellata colonies. Apis m. capensis worker bees are able to lay diploid female eggs without mating by means of automictic thelytoky, 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 norhern South Africa, are the asexual offspring of a single original worker in which the small amount of genetic variatioin observed is due to crossing over during meiosis. 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, and the lay eggs the 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, 

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Publication Details

Journal Name
Nature