Worker Bees Cheat On Queen Behind Her Back

Posted By Ben Goulding, 10 September, 2009 | permalink

Bees. Image: Dave Stobbe/Reuters/Corbis

Despite her title and supposed control over the hive, some worker bees cheat on their queen by reproducing for themselves to prolong their own lives, scientists have declared.

A study of a Brazilian species – Melipona scutellaris – found that some male bees are the sons of workers, rather than the queen bee.

Results showed that 23 per cent of the males were sons of the workers, rather than the Queen. Worker bees are usually unable to mate, but are capable of laying unfertilised eggs which can develop into male offspring.

To ensure dominance, the Queen usually eats any eggs laid by her workers. The only benefit of workers producing their own offspring is that it allows them to live three times longer, giving them a life expectancy that almost matches the queens.

This is because workers who reproduce do less work and don’t carry out risky tasks such as foraging.


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Posted in: Sci/Tech

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