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Exploited superorganisms –how life history shapes the reproductive strategies of honeybees

queen cells (c) Jana Bundschuh 2016
queen cells (c) Jana Bundschuh 2016

an essay on different forms of honeybee reproduction

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Not all honeybees stick to the likable picture that is drawn of them: In South Africa, cape honeybees (A. mellifera capensis) can make a pseudoclone of themselves the next queen of a colony. They are, from a genetic point of view, a real threat to their own queen. They will pass their own genome on to the next generation instead of providing support for the whole colony. Scientists have called these individuals “reproductive cheats“. In this essay I will use this example to show how changes in the mode of reproduction of organisms are linked to social parasitism within species and that several reproductive strategies can emerge and exist in parallel. This depends on the life circumstances of the individual.

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