In honey bee colonies, only the queen can lay eggs. This means that the reproductive interest of the workers lies solely in supporting the queen. In paper wasps, by contrast, the workers themselves can reproduce, raising the possibility of conflict between the interests of the workers and that of the queen.

Kern Reeve, professor of neurobiology and behavior at Cornell, and his graduate student Jessie Barker have been exploring the balance between conflict and cooperation in these wasp societies.