Cape honeybee workers can produce a new queen at any time, new Australian research reveals.
While in most bee species, the eggs laid by workers always grow into males, Apis mellifera capensis workers can produce females.
However, these workers tend to lay eggs only after their queen dies.
Madeleine Beekman and Ben Oldroyd of the University of Sydney, Australia, removed the queen and her eggs from eight A. m. capensis colonies, reports The New Scientist.
The researchers observed that the workers laid eggs as soon as the queen was removed.
Beekman and Oldroyd then put queen-laid eggs back into the colonies, leaving workers to choose which eggs to raise as queen.
The duo found workers preferentially reared their own larvae as queens, by giving them extra food.
The research appears in the journal Molecular Ecology. (ANI)