Monday, December 10, 2007 - 1:35 PM

Brood pheromone regulation of queen egg-laying in the honey bee (Apis mellifera L.)

Ramesh Reddy Sagili, and Tanya Pankiw, Texas A&M University, 309 Heep Center, West Campus, TAMU, College Station, TX

Brood pheromone is a 10-component mixture of methyl and ethyl fatty esters extractable from the surface of honey bee larvae. Brood pheromone is multifunctional and has been shown to bring about many physiological and behavioral changes such as increase in hypopharyngeal gland protein in nurse bees, increase in number of pollen foragers, increase in pollen load weights, increase in pollen foraging trips, increase or decrease in age of first foraging etc. In this study we tested whether brood pheromone (BP) regulated queen egg laying via modulation of worker-queen interactions and nurse bee rearing behaviors. This experiment was carried out in 4-frame observation hives. The experiment was replicated four times and had two treatments, brood pheromone and control. Queen and nurse bee behaviors were digitally recorded over a 9-day experimental period for each treatment. Queens in the BP treatment laid more eggs, were fed longer and were less idle compared to controls. Significantly more time was spent in cell cleaning by the bees in BP treatments. These results suggested that brood pheromone regulated queen egg-laying rate by modulating worker-queen interactions and nurse bee rearing behaviors.

Species 1: Hymenoptera Apidae Apis mellifera (honey bee)