In annual colonies of bumble-bees overt queen-worker conflict is limited to a distinct 'competition phase' (CPh). In unmanipulated Bombus terrestris colonies, the queen's switch to male production (the 'switch point', SP) accounted for only 22% of the variation in the onset of the CPh. In some colonies, the CPh even began before the SP. The CPh was more strongly correlated with the transition in queen production (r = 0.79). Replacing the queen eggs with male eggs or doubling the number of workers in young colonies resulted in a significantly earlier onset of the CPh and a significantly earlier transition to queen production. Replacing queen eggs with female eggs did not have this effect. These manipulations did not affect the timing of the queen's switch from female to male production. These findings show that the mechanism underlying the queen-worker conflict in insect societies is more complex than previously appreciated. The onset of queen-worker conflict cannot be attributed simply to a single factor such as the queen's switch to male production or a decrease in queen inhibition. Rather, multiple cues are important.
|Original language||American English|
|Number of pages||5|
|Journal||Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences|
|State||Published - 22 Dec 1999|
- Caste determination
- Queen-worker conflict
- Social evolution