Genotypic variation in foraging responses to environmental stimuli by honey bees, Apis mellifera

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89 Scopus citations


We experimentally tested a model predicting that colony-level genotypic diversity contributes to colonylevel foraging flexibility in honey bees. We established a colony into which we placed individually marked workers from three genetically distinct groups. The colony was placed in an enclosure that contained feeding stations with pollen and sugar syrup. Foraging resources, stores of pollen and the quantity of brood within the colony were varied temporally. Individual foragers switched between resource types in response to changes in relative resource quality and colony need, demonstrating flexibility in resource choice at the individual level. However, genetic groups within the colony varied in their tendency to collect pollen versus nectar, and in lability of response to changes in foraging stimuli. Our data suggest that within-colony genotypic diversity contributes to a resilient foraging response to environmental variation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1106-1112
Number of pages7
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1993


  • Honey bee
  • division of labor
  • genotypic diversity
  • nectar foraging
  • pollen foraging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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