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Working-class royalty: bees beat the caste system

By T. Wenseleers, F.L.W. Ratnieks, M.D. Ribeiro, D.D. Alves and V.L. Imperatriz-Fonseca

Abstract

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. \ud \u

Publisher: The Royal Society
Year: 2005
OAI identifier: oai:eprints.whiterose.ac.uk:1301

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