The honey bee originated in tropical Africa and later dispersed to northern Europe. It has been suggested that a higher hemolymph storage capacity for the glycolipoprotein vitellogenin evolved in temperate regions, and that the trait constitutes an adaptation to a strongly seasonal environment. We have investigated whether the relative vitellogenin levels of European and African honey bees are in accordance with this hypothesis. Our data indicate that European workers have a higher set-point concentration for vitellogenin compared to their African origin. Considered together with available life history information and physiological data, the results lend support to the view that "winter bees", a long-lived honey bee worker caste that survives winter in temperate regions, evolved through an increase in the worker bees' capacity for vitellogenin accumulation.
- Climatic regions
- Honey bee workers
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Insect Science