The role of the vibration signal during queen competition in colonies of the honeybee, Apis mellifera

Ss. Schneider et al., The role of the vibration signal during queen competition in colonies of the honeybee, Apis mellifera, ANIM BEHAV, 61, 2001, pp. 1173-1180
Citations number
Categorie Soggetti
Animal Sciences","Neurosciences & Behavoir
Journal title
ISSN journal
0003-3472 → ACNP
Year of publication
1173 - 1180
SICI code
Temporary polygyny (the presence of multiple queens) occurs in honeybee col onies when virgin queens (VQs) are reared for reproductive swarming or quee n replacement. During these events, workers perform vibration signals on qu een cells and emerged queens, and these signals may influence which VQ beco mes the new laying queen of a colony. We examined the role of vibration sig nals during queen competition in two African and six European honeybee colo nies. There was pronounced variability in vibration activity between coloni es and among queens reared within the same colony. Despite this variation, all colonies showed similar trends in the relationships between the vibrati on signal and queen replacement. Vibration signals performed on queen cells were not associated with emergence success. Likewise, the signal was not a ssociated with queen emergence order. Early emerging and late-emerging quee ns were vibrated at similar rates, and there was no clear relationship betw een emergence order and VQ survival. However, the signals performed on VQs after they emerged were associated with their behaviour and success during the queen elimination period. Emerged VQs that were vibrated at higher rate s survived longer, performed more bouts of piping (a characteristic sound p roduced by queens), eliminated more rivals and were more likely to become t he new queens of the colonies. The vibration signal may therefore allow wor kers a degree of control over the behaviour of emerged VQs, and may influen ce the outcome of queen competition-in honeybees. Differences in vibration activity within and among colonies may reflect differences in the extent to which workers and queens conflict over the timing and outcome of polygyny reduction. (C) 2001 The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour.