, Volume 47, Issue 4, pp 265-267

Response thresholds to sucrose predict foraging division of labor in honeybees

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Division of labor, where thousands of individuals perform specific behavioral acts repeatedly and non-randomly, is the hallmark of insect societies. Virtually nothing is known about the underlying neurophysiological processes that direct individuals into specific behavioral roles. We demonstrate that sensory-physiological variation in the perception of sucrose in honeybees measured when they are 1 week old correlates with their foraging behavior 2–3 weeks later. Workers with the lowest response thresholds became water foragers, followed with increasing response thresholds by pollen foragers, nectar foragers, bees collecting both pollen and nectar, and finally those returning to the colony empty (water

Received. 28 June 1999 / Received in revised form: 2 November 1999 / Accepted: 20 November 1999