Monday, December 10, 2007 - 10:05 AM

The relationship between ovary development and foraging behavior in the honey bee, Apis mellifera

Adam J. Siegel,, Osman Kaftanoglu,, M. Kim Fondrk,, and Robert E. Page, Arizona State University, School of Life Sciences, P.O. Box 874601, Tempe, AZ

There is increasing evidence that for workers of the honey bee, Apis mellifera, ovarian status influences behavioral phenotype. Both the activational state and the size of the ovaries may have modulatory effects on foraging behavior. We have previously shown that European honey bee workers selectively bred to store larger amounts of pollen (High strain) also forage earlier and have a higher number of ovarioles per ovary than workers from strains bred to store less pollen (low strain). To determine if this relationship was fully reciprocal, i.e. variation in ovariole number affects foraging behavior, we used an African-European hybrid strain selectively bred for variation in ovariole number and an unselected population of European bees chosen for wide variation in ovariole number. High and Low pollen hoarding strain bees, which are well-characterized, were used as a benchmark for comparison. Our results support the model of a tight interlinkage between reproductive development and behavioral phenotype. The underlying regulatory architecture may be the basis for the development of specialized castes.

Species 1: Hymenoptera Apidae Apis mellifera (honey bee)