We examined the interaction of genotype and environment on foraging-behavior development and forage choice in honeybees. High- and low-pollen-hoarding strains and unselected wild-type bees were co-fostered in pairs of colonies manipulated to differentially stimulate high and low pollen foraging. The high-pollen-foraging stimulus consisted of high amounts of larvae, a known stimulus for pollen foraging, plus low amounts of pollen, known to induce pollen foraging. The low-pollen-foraging stimulus consisted of low amounts of larvae plus high amounts of pollen. We estimated the median age at which bees initiated foraging, determined forage choice, and the quality and quantity of resources collected. High-strain bees consistently foraged at younger ages than workers from the other sources. High-strain bees appeared to be more sensitive to the pollen-foraging-stimulus treatments, showing greater differences in foraging age and behavior. Three-way interactions of genotype, pollen foraging stimulus, and colony pair (replicate) were statistically significant for most foraging variables measured suggesting that additional, unknown environmental factors also affect foraging behavior. Our results suggest there is a functional relationship between age of first foraging and forage choice with a strong genetic component that is modulated by colony environment.
- Foraging behavior
- Genotype-environment interaction
- Honeybee ontogeny
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Animal Science and Zoology