We demonstrate the effects of age and genotype on the likelihood that an individual worker honeybee (Apis mellifera L.) will become a forager. We established experimental colonies that were each initially composed of identifiable, nonforaging workers of similar ages (1-5 days old). Workers in each test colony were the progeny of two queens, providing age and genotypic groups of workers for comparisons. We then recorded the day that each worker was first observed foraging. Older workers were more likely to become foragers under our experimental conditions, even when age differences were just 1 day. At a given age, workers from different queens varied in their likelihood of becoming foragers. However, we found that neither age nor genotype (queen source) directly affected the likelihood that a forager would revert to within-nest, larval care activities after the removal of nonforaging bees from colonies. The likelihood of reverting was only dependent on how long a worker was a forager before removing the nonforagers of the colony.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Animal Science and Zoology