One of the most obvious characteristics of an insect society is reproductive cooperation. Yet insect colonies are vulnerable to reproductive parasitism, both by workers from their own colony and by workers from others. Little is known about the mechanisms insect societies have evolved to protect themselves from being exploited from within and outside the colony and the mechanisms that social parasites have evolved to circumvent these mechanisms. Here we showcase recently discovered cases of intraspecific parasitism by workers in eusocial bees. These discoveries overturn the widespread view that insect colonies are like fortresses populated by female eunuchs, and yield important insights into the mechanisms that normally enforce functional worker sterility.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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