Journal of Comparative Physiology A

, Volume 160, Issue 5, pp 613-619

Modulation of alarm pheromone perception in the honey bee: evidence for division of labor based on hormonall regulated response thresholds

  • Gene E. RobinsonAffiliated withDepartment of Entomology, Cornell University

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Treatment of 1-day-old worker honey bees with the juvenile hormone analog methoprene prematurely reduced their behavioral threshold sensitivity to alarm pheromones. Electroantennogram assays indicated that peripheral perception was not affected; the effects apparently occurred in the central nervous system. These results support a model (Robinson 1987) of division of labor based on the hormonal regulation of response thresholds to task-associated stimuli. Coupled with other studies (Breed 1983; Robinson 1985), they also suggest that: 1) aggression in the honey bee is hormonally mediated and 2) a single hormone is involved in both the production and perception of an olfactory communication signal, the first report of this phenomenon in an invertebrate.