The social hymenopterans (ants, wasps and bees) have all the enzymatic and genetic mechanisms necessary for the functional modification of DNA by methylation. Methylation appears to play a central role in shaping the developmental processes that give rise to the different castes. However, could DNA methylation have other roles in social insects? Theoretical arguments predict that male and female hymenopterans can be in conflict over the reproductive potential of their female offspring. An exciting prospect for future research is to examine the possibility that queens and males imprint the genomes of their gametes using DNA methylation to manipulate the reproductive potential of their progeny in ways that favour the inclusive fitness of the parent.