Scientists from the University of Sydney (Australia) completed a 30-year search for a single gene, which gives the bees of the species Apis mellifera capensis unique ability to reproduce without a Queen in the hive. This species of bee from South Africa, also known as “Kamskie bees” does not produce Queens and drones – instead, each worker bee can lay larvae. This ability gives them great competitive power, but also creates a lot of problems.
The bees of Cape cod enlarged ovaries that allows each individual, if necessary, to transform into the uterus, and also includes the ability to isolate the Royal pheromones. In a typical situation, when in the hive already has a Queen, they live like all bees. But if the uterus is killed, all the bees are overflowing with ambition and began to compete, who will be the new Queen. This weakens the hive, but not for long, and the strongest, but the loser bees fly around the area and occupy other hives.
Scientists see in this unique and dangerous version of social parasitism, when yesterday working individual due to the activation of the gene of the uterus with the help of pheromones subdues the bees of another hive. They begin to perceive it as a new Queen, and she eventually becomes, but also lays eggs on her own without fertilization by drones. This is a very effective strategy, as it reduces the amount of resources necessary for the survival of the hive, plus gives him a chance to revive, even if it will only be a few ordinary bees.
The only gene that gives the bees of the Cape this ability, identified as GB45239. It is located in the 11th chromosome and now scientists meticulously examine exactly how it works. Their task is to understand whether we can manage this process. From the gender division and of conception by the pairing of two animals has its advantages, but reproduction without mating is much more beneficial in terms of competition and the survival of the species in a hostile environment.
Source — University of Sydney