, Volume 195, Issue 7, pp 673-679
Date: 24 Apr 2009

Pupal developmental temperature and behavioral specialization of honeybee workers (Apis mellifera L.)

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Honeybees (Apis mellifera) are able to regulate the brood nest temperatures within a narrow range between 32 and 36°C. Yet this small variation in brood temperature is sufficient to cause significant differences in the behavior of adult bees. To study the consequences of variation in pupal developmental temperature we raised honeybee brood under controlled temperature conditions (32, 34.5, 36°C) and individually marked more than 4,400 bees, after emergence. We analyzed dancing, undertaking behavior, the age of first foraging flight, and forager task specialization of these workers. Animals raised under higher temperatures showed an increased probability to dance, foraged earlier in life, and were more often engaged in undertaking. Since the temperature profile in the brood nest may be an emergent property of the whole colony, we discuss how pupal developmental temperature can affect the overall organization of division of labor among the individuals in a self-organized process.