Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 36, Issue 2, pp 135–144

The effects of colony-level selection on the social organization of honey bee (Apis mellifera L.) colonies: colony-level components of pollen hoarding


  • Robert E. PageJr.
    • Department of EntomologyUniversity of California
  • M. Kim Fondrk
    • Department of EntomologyUniversity of California

DOI: 10.1007/BF00170718

Cite this article as:
Page, R.E. & Fondrk, M.K. Behav Ecol Sociobiol (1995) 36: 135. doi:10.1007/BF00170718


Two-way selection for quantities of stored pollen resulted in the production of high and low pollen hoarding strains of honey bees (Apis mellifera L.). Strains differed in areas of stored pollen after a single generation of selection and, by the third generation, the high strain colonies stored an average 6 times more pollen than low strain colonies. Colony-level organizational components that potentially affect pollen stores were identified that varied genetically within and between these strains. Changes occurred in several of these components, in addition to changes in the selected trait. High strain colonies had a significantly higher proportion of foragers returning with loads of pollen, however, high and low strain colonies had equal total numbers of foragers Colony rates of intake of pollen and nectar were not independent. Selection resulted in an increase in the number of pollen collectors and a decrease in the number of nectar collectors in high strain colonies, while the reciprocal relationship occurred in the low strain. High and low strain colonies also demonstrated different diurnal foraging patterns as measured by the changing proportions of returning pollen foragers. High strain colonies of generation 3 contained significantly less brood than did low strain colonies, a consequence of a constraint on colony growth resulting from a fixed nest volume and large quantities of stored pollen. These components represent selectable colony-level traits on which natural selection can act and shape the social organization of honey bee colonies

Key words

Apis mellifera Colony-level selection Pollen storage Foraging Colony growth

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1995