TitleHoney bees consider larval nutritional status rather than genetic relatedness when selecting larvae for emergency queen rearing.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsSagili, R, Metz, BN, Lucas, HM, Chakrabarti, P, Breece, CR
JournalSci Rep
Date Published2018 May 16

In honey bees and many other social insects, production of queens is a vital task, as colony fitness is dependent on queens. The factors considered by honey bee workers in selecting larvae to rear new queens during emergency queen rearing are poorly understood. Identifying these parameters is critical, both in an evolutionary and apicultural context. As female caste development in honey bees is dependent on larval diet (i.e. nutrition), we hypothesized that larval nutritional state is meticulously assessed and used by workers in selection of larvae for queen rearing. To test this hypothesis, we conducted a series of experiments manipulating the nutritional status of one day old larvae by depriving them of brood food for a four-hour period, and then allowing workers to choose larvae for rearing queens from nutritionally deprived and non-deprived larvae. We simultaneously investigated the role of genetic relatedness in selection of larvae for queen rearing. In all the experiments, significantly greater numbers of non-deprived larvae than deprived larvae were selected for queen rearing irrespective of genetic relatedness. Our results demonstrate that honey bees perceive the nutritional state of larvae and use that information when selecting larvae for rearing queens in the natural emergency queen replacement process.

Alternate JournalSci Rep
PubMed ID29769574
PubMed Central IDPMC5955998