The hive bee to forager transition in honeybee colonies

The double repressor hypothesis

Gro Amdam, Stig W. Omholt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

160 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In summer, the honeybee (Apis mellifera) worker population consists of two temporal castes, a hive bee group performing a multitude of tasks including nursing inside the nest, and a forager group specialized on collecting nectar, pollen, water and propolis. Elucidation of the regulatory mechanisms responsible for the hive bee to forager transition holds a prominent position within present day sociobiology. Here we suggest a new explanation dubbed the "double repressor hypothesis" aimed to account for the substantial amount of empirical data in this field. This is the first time where both the regular transition and starvation-induced precocious transition are explained within the same regulatory framework. We suggest that the transition is under regulatory control by an internal and an external repressor of the allatoregulatory central nervous system, where these two repressors modulate a positive regulatory feedback loop involving juvenile hormone (JH) and the lipoprotein vitellogenin. The concepts of age-neutrality, fixed and variable response thresholds and reinforcement are integral parts of our explanation, and in addition they are given explicit physiological content. The hypothesis is represented by a differential equations model at the level of the individual bee, and by a discrete individual-based colony model. The two models generate predictions in accordance with empirical data concerning the cumulative probability of becoming a forager, mean age at onset of foraging, reversal of foragers, time window of reversal, relationship between JH titre and onset of foraging, relative representations of genotypic groups, and effects of forager depletion and confinement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)451-464
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Theoretical Biology
Volume223
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 21 2003
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

beehives
honey bee colonies
Bees
Urticaria
Juvenile Hormones
Hormones
juvenile hormones
Foraging
Reversal
foraging
Plant Nectar
Propolis
Vitellogenins
Lipoproteins
Sociobiology
propolis
Nursing
vitellogenin
Neurology
nectar

Keywords

  • Apis mellifera
  • Division of labour
  • Multiple steady states
  • Reinforcement
  • Response thresholds
  • Self-organization
  • Social systems

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

Cite this

The hive bee to forager transition in honeybee colonies : The double repressor hypothesis. / Amdam, Gro; Omholt, Stig W.

In: Journal of Theoretical Biology, Vol. 223, No. 4, 21.08.2003, p. 451-464.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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