The honeybee is in a prime position to contribute to a deeper understanding of the aging phenomenology in organisms that live in complex social environments. In contrast to the classic models of biological aging research, honeybees represent a species in an advanced state of social evolution. They live their entire lives as part of a complex society, the colony, and cannot survive or reproduce as solitary individuals. The worker population of a honeybee colony normally segregates into a temporal hive bee caste that performs a series of tasks inside the nest, and a temporal forager caste that specializes in collecting nectar, pollen, water, and propolis. Metabolic rate (MR) is one physiological factor that may underlie the temporal, caste-associated mortality rates of honeybee workers. The MR of diutinus workers can fall to half the MR of hive bees. Elevated MR causes an increase in the release of free radicals that can induce oxidative impairment. The protein content of worker bees is low at emergence, but it increases sharply during the first 10-12 days of adult life through pollen feeding.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)