Recent studies have shown that differences in patterns of task specialization among nestmate honeybee workers (Apis mellifera) can be explained, in part, as a consequence of genotypic variability. Here, we present evidence supporting the hypothesis that an individual's pattern of task specialization is affected not only by her own genotype, but, indirectly, by the genotypes of her nestmates. Workers from two strains of honey bees, one selected for high pollen hoarding, the other for low pollen hoarding, were observed in colonies of their respective parent strains and in colonies of the other strain. Worker genotype and host-colony type affected foraging activity. Workers from the high strain fostered in low-strain colonies returned with pollen on 75.6% of total foraging trips, while workers from the high strain fostered in high-strain colonies returned with pollen on 53.5% of total trips. Workers from the low strain fostered in low-strain colonies returned with pollen on 34.8% of total foraging trips while workers from the low strain fostered in high-strain colonies returned with pollen on 2.6% of total trips. Similar results were obtained in a second experiment. We suggest that workers influence the behavior of their nestmates indirectly through their effects on the shared colony environment. The asymmetry seen in the response of workers from these strains to the two types of colony environments also suggests that these genotypes exhibit different norms of reaction.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Animal Science and Zoology