News FocusBehavioral Ecology

Sex and Social Structure

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Science  23 Oct 2009:
Vol. 326, Issue 5952, pp. 518-519
DOI: 10.1126/science.326_518

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A series of studies of honey bees has shown that reproductive traits help shape a honey bee worker's role in life and that ovaries are active players in the process—even if they play little role in reproduction in worker bees. The specialized tasks have their basis in what behavioral ecologists call a reproductive ground plan. Although there is debate about the relevance of the work to social insects other than bees—and at least one study has produced contrary data—the idea is gaining attention.