, Volume 7, Issue 1, pp 1-15

Variation in worker response to honey bee (Apis mellifera L.) queen mandibular pheromone (Hymenoptera: Apidae)

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Abstract

Genetic and environmental influences on the worker honey bee retinue response to queen mandibular gland pheromone (QMP) were investigated. Worker progeny were reared from queens originating from four sources: Australia, New Zealand, and two locations in British Columbia, Canada (Simon Fraser University and Vancouver Island). Progeny from New Zealand queens responded significantly higher (P < 0.05) than progeny from Australia in a QMP retinue bioassay. Retinue response was not related to queen production of pheromone or colony environment, and the strain-dependent differences in retinue bioassay responses were maintained over a wide range of dosages. Selected high- and low-responding colonies were bioassayed over the course of 1 year. High-responding colonies contacted QMP lures more frequently than low-responding colonies (P < 0.05) throughout the year except in late summer. We conclude that there is a strong genetic component to QMP response by worker honey bees, as well as a seasonal effect on response.