Do Worker Bees Cheat On Their Queens?

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Worker bees that live in colonies have always been known and admired for their intelligence, work ethics and most of all, loyalty to their queen - However, a new study of the Brazilian Melipona scuttellaris bee colonies, has revealed that these little insects maybe a little craftier than we originally thought.

As you may already know, bee colonies work seamlessly because the queen controls everything - And that includes producing new bees. In fact, even if worker bees lay eggs, they are either eaten up by the Queen or a 'police' force, made up of fellow worker bees. At least, this has been the belief until now.

The new study that examined the gene structure of the individual bees, revealed that over 20% of the bees in the hives were offsprings of worker bees, not the queen.

This has led the scientists to believe that some of the worker bees have become a little sneaky. They believe that the little insects are doing this to extend their life span, which seems to increase by three-fold when they have little babies. Though scientists are not sure why that happens, they believe it is because the bees who are reproducing don't work as hard and don't perform dangerous tasks like foraging (looking for food).

While this 'selfish' behavior is beneficial to the worker bee, it is not such good news for the colony as a whole, which works so well only because everybody does their jobs efficiently.

Though scientists are not concerned about the issue yet, they worry that if the population of 'lazy' and 'selfish' worker bees increases, it may jeopardize the efficiency of the hive - sounds just like our world, doesn't it?

sources:scienceforkids.com, sciencedaily.org

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