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Naturwissenschaften. 2013 Jun;100(6):571-80. doi: 10.1007/s00114-013-1053-2. Epub 2013 May 11.

Factors influencing survival duration and choice of virgin queens in the stingless bee Melipona quadrifasciata.

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1
Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, S10 2TN, UK. martin_kaercher@yahoo.de

Abstract

In Melipona quadrifasciata, about 10% of the females develop into queens, almost all of which are killed. Occasionally, a new queen replaces or supersedes the mother queen or heads a new colony. We investigated virgin queen fate in queenright and queenless colonies to determine the effects of queen behaviour, body mass, nestmate or non-nestmate status, queenright or queenless colony status, and, when queenless, the effect of the time a colony had been queenless, on survival duration and acceptance. None of 220 virgin queens observed in four observation hives ever attacked another virgin queen nor did any of 88 virgin queens introduced into queenright colonies ever attack the resident queen. A new queen was only accepted in a queenless colony. Factors increasing survival duration and acceptance of virgin queens were to emerge from its cell at 2 h of queenlessness, to hide, and to avoid fights with workers. In this way, a virgin queen was more likely to be available when a colony chooses a new queen, 24-48 h after resident queen removal. Running, walking or resting, antennating or trophallaxis, played little or no role, as did the factors body mass or nestmate. "Queen choice" took about 2 h during which time other virgin queens were still being killed by workers. During this agitated process, the bees congregated around the new queen. She inflated her abdomen and some of the workers deposited a substance on internal nest surfaces including the glass lid of the observation hive.

PMID:
23666065
DOI:
10.1007/s00114-013-1053-2
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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