View Full Version : Queens

Dec 6th 2009, 05:29 PM
I was asked a question regarding laying queens, it was;

Is it possible to have a hive that has a laying queen from a laying worker egg?

I said yes it is possible, only to be shouted down by other members of my association. At the time I knew I had read something regarding this phe0menon but it could not bring it to bear.

So before I go any further I will ask you guys across the pond - Is it possible?

I look forward to your replies as some of the replies I received from other beekeepers were very amusing.


Dec 6th 2009, 05:44 PM
From Apis Mellifera mellifera, it isn't any more possible than getting a colt from a mule.

There are honey bees that do have the ability. I'm not totally sure, but it may be Apis Mellifera Capensis. A search or two should give you the correct one.

As with most questions bee related, just asking about one type of honeybee, many answers can be correct.

EDIT: I found this on my first search.

Apis mellifera capensis, the Cape honey bee or Cape bee is a southern South African sub-species of the Western honey bee. Cape bee workers are uniquely able to lay diploid, female eggs, by means of thelytoky, whereas workers of other honey bee subspecies (and, in fact, unmated females of virtually all other eusocial insects) are able to lay only haploid, male eggs.

Dec 6th 2009, 06:08 PM
Just as Iddee said.

There was a brief thread of this on another forum, and that is the same answer that was given by different people.

As far as Apis Mellifera mellifera, I would say no, but then the world is full of wonders.

A good experiment could be done.........graft a drone larve into a queen cup and see what would happen.
graft the larve from a laying worker into a queen cup and see what would happen.

I wonder if the attendants would reject the queen cups and let the larve die.


Dec 7th 2009, 01:57 PM
Hi Guy's,
Yep your both correct in saying its the South African, Apis Mellifera Capensis.
I could not bring to mind the word Thelytoky but I knew that it was not unique to the Cape bee, as some stocks of A.m. caucasica and A.m. ligustice, especially the 'Golden' strain produced workers afterthey were inducedto lay eggs by treatment with carbon dioxide. Also I believe that Thelytoky can be induced by supressing oviposition by the queen and then later allowing her to lay.
Why anyone would wish to do that to a queen is beyond belief, as I don't really know if it breeds a better queen or not. Common sense (had to ask my wife what that ment), say's NO how can it bee benificial to stop and start a queen laying. Nature throws up enough problems without man interfering.

I hope this little chat has made other members aware of the fact that strange things do happen when messing about with the genetic makeup of the bee.



Dec 7th 2009, 03:33 PM
Some big words in there but after reading it a couple of times and looking some of the other words up it made sense to me. if you look it up on wikipedia it will highlight several of the words and will look them up also, just type in thelytoky.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Thelytoky comes from the Greek thely, meaning "female", and tok, meaning "birth". Thelytokous parthenogenesis is a type of parthenogenesis in which females are produced from unfertilized eggs. It is rare in the animal kingdom and has only been reported in about 1500 species.[1] It is more common in invertebrates, like arthropods, but can also occur in vertebrates, like some whiptail lizards. Hymenoptera (ants, bees and wasps) for example, are haplodiploid and usually reproduce by arrhenotokous parthenogenesis, in which unfertilized eggs develop into haploid males, and fertilized eggs develop into diploid females but thelytoky has been described in several taxa, including Cynipidae, Tenthredinidae, Aphelinidae, Ichneumonidae, Apidae and Formicidae.[2] It can also be induced in Hymenoptera by the bacteria Wolbachia and Cardinium.[3]

Thelytoky can occur by a number of different mechanisms each of which has a different impact on the level of inbreeding.

An example of thelytoky is the reproduction of female workers or queens by laying worker bees. It occurs in the Cape bee, Apis mellifera capensis and has been found in other strains at very low frequency. In honey bees, thelytoky occurs when diploidy is restored by the fusion of two meiotic products.[4] Usually, unfertilized eggs are haploid containing only a single set of chromosomes (16) from the mother. Cape bee laying workers are capable of laying unfertilized diploid (32 chromosomes) eggs. These eggs undergo an unusual biological life cycle. A late stage of meiosis is anaphase when the chromosomes separate. In parthenogenesis (the reproduction without male fertilization), anaphase is followed by fusion of two meiotic products to restore diploidy (the egg pronucleus and the central descendant of the first polar body fuse to form a zygote with a diploid nucleus). The zygote develops into an embryo. Depending on how the embryo is fed it can develop into a worker bee or a queen bee.

[edit] References
1.^ White M (1984). Chromosomal mechanisms in animal reproduction. Bull Zool 51: 123.
2.^ Suomalainen E, Saura A, Lokki J (1987). Cytology and Evolution in Parthenogenesis. CRC Press Inc.: Boca Raton, FL.
3.^ G. Jeong and Stouthamer, R. (2005) Genetics of female functional virginity in the Parthenogenesis-Wolbachia infected parasitoid wasp Telenomus nawai (Hymenoptera: Scelionidae). Heredity 94:402-407
4.^ E. Baudry et al. (2004) Whole-Genome Scan in Thelytokous-Laying Workers of the Cape Honey bee (Apis mellifera capensis): Central Fusion, Reduced Recombination Rates and Centromere Mapping Using Half-Tetrad Analysis. Genetics 167:243-252

Dec 7th 2009, 11:49 PM
Thanks for the wikipedia post g3, I wouldn't have wrapped my head around this without it... an interesting subject for sure but I also don't see any benefit in stopping and starting the queen laying.