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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Chemical Biology of Insect and Plant Signaling Systems

Location: Chemistry Research Unit

Title: Effects of honey bee (Apis mellifera L.) queen insemination volume on worker behavior and physiology

Authors
item Nino, Elina -
item Malka, Osnat -
item Hefetz, Abraham -
item Teal, Peter
item Hayes, Jerry -
item Grozinger, Christina -

Submitted to: Journal of Insect Physiology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: April 27, 2012
Publication Date: June 1, 2012
Citation: Nino, E.L., Malka, O., Hefetz, A., Teal, P.E., Hayes, J., Grozinger, C.M. 2012. Effects of honey bee (Apis mellifera L.) queen insemination volume on worker behavior and physiology. Journal of Insect Physiology. 58:1082-1089.

Interpretive Summary: Honey bee colonies contain tens of thousands of non reproductive female worker and a single reproductive queen that is either their mother of a sister. The entire organization of the colony is regulated by pheromones, signaling chemicals, produced by the queen. In an 11-month long field study scientists at the Pennsylvania State University, State College PA, Tel Aviv University, Israel, Center for Medical, Agricultural and Veterinary Entomology, USDA, Gainesville, FL, and Florida Division of Plant Industry, Gainesville Fl. Studied what the effect of multiple mating by queens was on colony health. They discovered that workers were more attracted to queens that had high seminal volumes (mated a lotthat to females with low seminal volume (mated less frequently) and that workers exposed to low-volume inseminated queens initiated production of queen-like esters in their Dufour’s glands. However, the levels of hormones monitored were not different and queen overwintering survival over the winter was lower in high-volume inseminated queens. The results suggest that the queen insemination volume could ultimately affect colony health and productivity.

Technical Abstract: Honey bee colonies consist of tens of thousands of workers and a single reproductive queen that produces a pheromone blend which maintains colony organization. Previous studies indicated that the insemination quantity and volume alter queen mandibular pheromone profiles. In our 11-month long field study we show that workers are more attracted to high-volume versus low-volume inseminated queens, however, there were no significant differences between treatments in the number of queen cells built by workers in preparation for supersedure. Workers exposed to low-volume inseminated queens initiated production of queen-like esters in their Dufour’s glands, but there were no significant difference in the amount of methyl farnesoate and juvenile hormone in worker hemolymph. Lastly, queen overwintering survival was unexpectedly lower in high-volume inseminated queens. Our results suggest that the queen insemination volume could ultimately affect colony health and productivity.

Last Modified: 11/24/2014
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