Rebel Bees – Or Not!

Scientists in Poland led by Prof Michal Woyciechowski from the Institute of Environmental Sciences at Jagiellonian University in Poland have studied post-swarm bee colonies to understand how workers react to a change in queen.  They discovered that when a daughter replaces her mother as head of the colony, some worker bees reproduce [become laying workers] instead of caring for their monarch’s offspring.  Their interpretation is that is a rebellion.

See story on the BBC Nature website.

If I might offer an alternative theory based on the evidence.  It seems to me that rather than being a reaction to not wanting to raise nieces and nephews this is actually a survival strategy by the ‘selfish genes’ of the workers.  My reasoning for this is that while the queens are developing there is no certainty that the virgin queen will successfully mate.  So if I wanted to preserve the future of my genes then I would become a drone layer.  If the queen fails then the drones would at least stand a chance of mating and pass on the genetic material to daughters of the mated queen.