Social Context and Reproductive Potential Affect Worker Reproductive Decisions in a Eusocial Insect
Eighty-four percent of the fertile bees introduced into a foreign nest (n = 6 colonies) had developed ovaries seven days later, whereas only 55.6% (n = 6 colonies, p = 0.037) did when reintroduced into their native nest. Social context therefore appears to dramatically influence fertile workers reproductive decisions, resulting in a fine tuning of their ovarian activity pattern to their fitness interests. As foreign workers' fertility was not affected by the presence of a queen in the host colony, fertility differences in bees introduced into their mother compared to a foreign nest are likely due to differences in queen signal influence, suggesting that foreign workers do not respond to the host queen signal.