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The relationship between asymmetry, size and unusual venation in honey bees (Apis mellifera)

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  04 March 2016

S. Łopuch*
Department of Pomology and Apiculture, Agricultural University, 29 Listopada 54, 31-425 Krakow, Poland
A. Tofilski
Department of Pomology and Apiculture, Agricultural University, 29 Listopada 54, 31-425 Krakow, Poland
*Author for correspondence Phone: +48 12 6625069 E-mail:


Despite the fact that symmetry is common in nature, it is rarely perfect. Because there is a wide range of phenotypes which differs from the average one, the asymmetry should increase along with deviation. Therefore, the aim of this study was to assess the level of asymmetry in normal individuals as well as in phenodeviants categorized as minor or major based on abnormalities in forewing venation in honey bees. Shape fluctuating asymmetry (FA) was lower in normal individuals and minor phenodeviants compared with major phenodeviants, whereas the former two categories were comparable in drones. In workers and queens, there were not significant differences in FA shape between categories. FA size was significantly lower in normal individuals compared with major phenodeviant drones and higher compared with minor phenodeviant workers. In queens, there were no significant differences between categories. The correlation between FA shape and FA size was significantly positive in drones, and insignificant in workers and queens. Moreover, a considerable level of directional asymmetry was found as the right wing was constantly bigger than the left one. Surprisingly, normal individuals were significantly smaller than minor phenodeviants in queens and drones, and they were comparable with major phenodeviants in all castes. The correlation between wing size and wing asymmetry was negative, indicating that smaller individuals were more asymmetrical. The high proportion of phenodeviants in drones compared with workers and queens confirmed their large variability. Thus, the results of the present study showed that minor phenodeviants were not always intermediate as might have been expected.

Research Papers
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2016 

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