The effect of genotype, age, sex, and caste on response thresholds to sucrose and foraging behavior of honey bees (Apis mellifera L.)

T. Pankiw, R. E. Page

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

140 Scopus citations


Bees derived from artificially selected high-and low-pollen-hoarding strains were tested for their proboscis extension reflex response to water and varying sucrose concentrations. High-strain bees had a lower response threshold to sucrose than low-strain bees among pre-foragers, foragers, queens and drones. Preforaging low-strain workers showed ontogenetic changes in their response threshold to sucrose which was inversely related to age. High-strain foragers were more likely to return with loads of water compared to low-strain foragers. Whereas low-strain foragers were more likely to return with loads of nectar. Low-strain nectar foragers collected nectar with significantly higher sucrose concentrations than did the high-strain nectar foragers. Alternatively, low-strain foragers were more likely to return empty compared to high-strain foragers. These studies demonstrate how a genotypically varied sensory-physiological process, the perception of sucrose, are associated with a division of labor for foraging.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)207-213
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Comparative Physiology - A Sensory, Neural, and Behavioral Physiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1 1999



  • Behavior
  • Development
  • Foraging
  • Honey bee
  • Neurobiology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Physiology
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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