E.6a Kin Selection

Describe the social organization of honey bees and one other non-human example.

honey bees

  • 30,000 workers which are sterile and one fertile queen
  • queen lays fertilized eggs in wax chambers built by workers
  • eggs fed (up to 1300 times/day) by nurse workers (for 6 days)
  • cells sealed, pupate (for 12 days), emerge as sterile worker (rest for 1-2 days)
  • queen produces pheromones which keep workers sterile
  • remain in hive as nurse for about a week
  • spend additional time as housekeeper, wax producer
  • become guard, making brief trips outside hive
  • become forager, collecting nectar and pollen
  • workers thus build, maintain and protect hive
  • over winter, workers huddle around queen to keep warm
  • in spring, queen lays unfertilized eggs, which develop into haploid male drones
  • drones mate with queen from other hive during her nuptial flight
  • queen stores sperm for lifetime (5-7 years)
  • workers evict drones when they are not needed
  • when pollen nectar peaks (spring), diet affects developing eggs
  • richer diet: some eggs develop as queen candidates, workers enlarge cells
  • old queen departs with about half of workers
  • swarming behavior as workers + queen find and create new hive location
  • in old hive, 1st new queen emerges; others queen candidates killed by workers
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