Queen bee from laying workers

Beekeeping & Apiculture Forum

Help Support Beekeeping & Apiculture Forum:

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.

BKF Admin

Queen Bee
Jul 28, 2008
Reaction score
Hampshire uk
Hive Type
Number of Hives
I have read that by a freak of nature it is sometimes possible for a hive to have a mated laying queen from a laying worker hive/egg.

Anyone else come across this before?
I have read that by a freak of nature it is sometimes possible for a hive to have a mated laying queen from a laying worker hive/egg.

Anyone else come across this before?

I've never come across thelytoky, but in most apis sub species it happens at a very low frequency so I wouldn't really expect to :)
crg thanks for telling me what it's called.

I found this on Wiki:

An example of thelytoky is the reproduction of female workers or queens by laying worker bees.

It occurs in the Cape bee, Apis mellifera capensis and has been found in other strains at very low frequency.
In honey bees, thelytoky occurs when diploidy is restored by the fusion of two meiotic products.

Usually, unfertilized eggs are haploid containing only a single set of chromosomes from the mother.
Cape bee laying workers are capable of laying unfertilized diploid (32 chromosomes) eggs.
These eggs undergo an unusual biological life cycle. A late stage of meiosis is anaphase when the chromosomes separate. In parthenogenesis (the reproduction without male fertilization), anaphase is followed by fusion of two meiotic products to restore diploidy (the egg pronucleus and the central descendant of the first polar body fuse to form a zygote with a diploid nucleus).

The zygote develops into an embryo. Depending on how the embryo is fed it can develop into a worker bee or a queen bee.
Interisting is parastic cape honeybee in South Africa.

"The recent introduction by humans of honeybee colonies with
thelytokous (female producing) laying workers, thought to be
Apis mellifera capensis, into the region of the neighbouring
arrhenotokous (male producing) subspecies A. m. scutellata in
northeastern SouthAfrica, resulted in the usurpation and subsequent
loss of many thousands of colonies of the latter.1–3 This followed
from intraspecific social parasitism of the thelytokous
laying workers.4,5 Recent genetic analyses6–10 confirmed that a
single matriline of thelytokous laying workers, constituting an
almost genotypically identical so-called pseudo-clone,6,7 is
invading large areas of the range of A. m. scutellata."


More The Cape honeybee (Apis mellifera capensis).

From laying workers to social parasites.


Africanized honey bees have an unexpected advantage in the battle to keep beekeepers from replacing highly defensive Africanized queens with gentle, easily managed European ones.Within only one week after their queen dies or is removed by beekeepers, Africanized worker bees--which are female--are capable of activating their ovaries to produce viable female eggs for re-queening the hive.

The Cape Bee Problem

The Cape bee problem was discussed under the Apimondia Bee Biology Standing Commission. Traditionally, two races of honey bees have co-existed in South Africa, a northern one (Apis mellifera scutellata) and a southern one (Apis mellifera capensis), separated by a fairly wide geographic boundary consisting of large tracts of arid climate, extensions of the Khalahari and Karoo deserts. Both subspecies are good pollinators and honey producers in their own regions. Capensis, however, has a trait scientists call thelytoky. This means that capensis worker bees can lay eggs that also develop into workers, in effect cloning themselves. These so-called pseudoqueens may be an adaptation to the winds that blow near the Cape of Good Hope, which severely affect the mating ability of virgin cape bee queens. By contrast, eggs of laying workers in honey bees found everywhere else in the world more often than not result in drones, known as arrhenotoky. It is important to realize that a small amount of thelytoky is probably present in most races or ecotypes of honey bees.

In the early 1990s, capensis bees were moved as part of migratory beekeeping into scutellata areas. The result was that worker cape bees began to enter scutellata colonies. This precipitated in quick order, queen supercedure by scutellata colonies, followed by a decline in population and colony demise. This phenomena is called "social parasitism," and has been responsible for tens of thousands of colony losses in scutellata country. The social organization of scutellata colonies appears to be pheromonally disrupted by capensis workers; they simply self-destruct. There is no immediate answer to the problem it seems,
Last edited:
LUS = A strain of honey bees (hereafter referred to as LUS) has been established from a breeding program in which virgin queens were introduced into broodless colonies (i.e., eggs and larvae did not exist in the colony) from November to March in southern Arizona.

LUS were selected from commercial European honey bee stock, indicating that thelytoky may exist as part of the overall Apis mellifera gene pool. However, reports indicate that in managed colonies thelytoky is expressed at a very low frequency (Mackensen 1943).


Unfortunately, all but one of the queens produced from laying worker brood were lost before they could begin egg laying.

Finman's opinion:
Evil voices have said that LUS ability comes from crossings of African genepool - I do not know. US africanized bees have several features like parasitic way to conquer commercial hives and mating nucs.

It is said too that anti varroa bee stocks in Arizona is a tame stock of Africanised bees. Somehow folks are quiet. If the news exist that migrative beekeeprs spread killer bees around USA, citizen would quite angry against beekeeping.

Somehow reasearchers are not willing to research the issue of "varroa tolerant Arizona bees".


Last edited: