Hanekom Beekeeping

Hanekom Beekeeping

Eco-beekeeping, removals and tutoring.

Eco-beekeeping, removals and tutoring.

Our floral fynbos champions

The Cape honey bee is unique among honey bee subspecies because workers can lay diploid, female eggs, by means of thelytoky, while workers of other subspecies (and, in fact, unmated females of virtually all other eusocial insects) can only lay haploid, male eggs. Not all workers are capable of thelytoky – only those expressing the thelytoky phenotype, which is controlled by a recessive allele at a single locus (workers must be homozygous at this locus to be able to reproduce by thelytoky).

For more detailed information on this unique and fascinating capability of the Cape honey bee read up on the research done by; Lattorff, H.M.G., Mortiz, R.F.A. and Fuchs, S. 2005. A single locus determines thelytokous parthenogenesis of laying honeybee workers (Apis mellifera capensis). Heredity. 94: 533–537.

Marc's research

The effects of a Queenless hive

I investigated what physical changes occurred within a Cape worker honey bee when a queen honey bee is not present in a hive over several days.

I would take a brood frame out and wait for new brood to emerge. I would mark them on their thorax (blue) then note the date (one day old) and then put them back into the hive with no queen. I did the same for Cape worker bees who had a queen bee in the hive (green).

Below are the visual results I witnessed and documented:

Microscope setup


Queenless Cape worker bee

It has been dissected (note the two developed ovary sacs on either side of the bee)

Queenless Cape worker bee

The developed ovary sacs on a microscope glass slide for scale reference


Cape worker bee — With Queen present

It has been dissected and shows ovary sacs, however they are undeveloped

Cape worker bee — With Queen present

Undeveloped ovary sacs on a microscope glass slide for scale reference


In summary

From the microscope photos taken it was significantly evident that with no queen present worker bees develop their ovaries and start to lay eggs. When there is a queen present worker bees’ do not develop their ovaries.

In general, the queen’s presence and specifically her pheromones, govern and regulate the workers functionality.

site visits and previous work

get in touch with Marc

Where to find Marc

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