Working-class royalty: bees beat the caste system

Wenseleers, Tom, Ratnieks, Francis L W, de F Ribiero, Marcia, de A Alves, Denise and Imperatriz-Fonseca, Vera-Lucia (2005) Working-class royalty: bees beat the caste system. Biology Letters, 1 (2). pp. 125-128. ISSN 1744-9561

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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
Schools and Departments: School of Life Sciences > Evolution, Behaviour and Environment
Depositing User: Francis Ratnieks
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 19:51
Last Modified: 21 Mar 2012 10:27
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