, Volume 43, Issue 4, pp 347-358

Influence of age and caging upon protein metabolism, hypopharyngeal glands and trophallactic behavior in the honey bee (Apis mellifera L.)

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Different-aged honey bees were either kept in a cage together with young sisters for eight days or lived in their colony. Following an injection of14C-phenylalanine (Phe) we measured incorporation of14C-Phe into head protein and total protein, as well as the size of the hypopharyngeal glands. While confined in a cage for four hours, injected bees (from colony or cage) dispensed the14C-labelled protein-rich products of their hypopharyngeal glands to recipients. Eight-day-old colony bees had well developed hypopharyngeal glands, whereas at the age of sixteen days the glands had already decreased in size. Young caged bees had smaller hypopharyngeal glands. Colony bees had higher incorporation rates into total protein and head protein than bees living in a cage. Bees of different age classes, irrespective of caging, fed the same number of recipients; but the amount of14C-labelled protein-rich jelly distributed by caged bees was significantly smaller than that distributed by colony bees. Our results indicate that trophallaxis between young donor workers and newly emerged recipient worker bees is not the key factor for regular development and activity of the hypopharyngeal glands.