GRE General Test: RC-625354 GRE Reading Comprehension

Typically the queen honeybee is mother to all the bees in a hive; after mating with several male drones from other colonies, she lays fertilized eggs that develop into all-female worker bees and lays unfertilized eggs that become all-male drones. When a queen dies, workers often lay unfertilized eggs that hatch into drones. Yet workers rarely reproduce while a queen reigns.

According to natural selection theory, a worker would enhance her fitness-or abiIity to propagate her genes-by hatching her own eggs in addition to or in place of the queen’s. But a typical worker’s fitness would be diminished if other workers’ sons, who have less genetic material in common with the worker, supplanted the queen’s sons (the worker’s brothers). Researchers, testing the hypothesis that workers usually somehow block each other’s attempts to reproduce, put unfertilized eggs laid by workers and by the queen into a hive. Other workers quickly devoured the workers’ eggs while leaving the queen’s eggs alone.
 
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