Honey bee foragers specialize on collecting pollen and nectar. Pollen foraging behavior is modulated by at least two stimuli within the nest: the presence of brood pheromone and young larvae and the quantity of stored pollen. Genetic variation in pollen foraging behavior has been demonstrated repeatedly. We used selected high and low pollen-hoarding strains of bees that differ dramatically in the quantity of pollen collected to determine if the observed differences in foraging could be explained by differential responses to brood stimuli. Workers from the high and low pollen-hoarding strains and wild-type bees were co-fostered in colonies with either brood or no brood. As expected based on previous studies, returning high pollen-hoarding foragers collected heavier pollen loads and lighter nectar loads than low pollen-hoarding bees. Effects of brood treatment were also observed; bees exposed to brood collected heavier pollen loads and initiated foraging earlier than those from broodless colonies. More specifically, brood treatment resulted in increased pollen foraging in high pollen-hoarding bees but did not affect pollen foraging in low pollen-hoarding bees, suggesting that high pollen-hoarding bees are more sensitive to the presence of brood. However, response to brood stimuli does not sufficiently explain the differences in foraging behavior between the strains since these differences persisted even in the absence of brood.
- Honey bee
- Pollen foraging
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Animal Science and Zoology