Worker honey bee ovary development: seasonal variation and the influence of larval and adult nutrition
We examined the effect of larval and adult nutrition on worker honey bee (Apis mellifera L.) ovary development. Workers were fed high or low-pollen diets as larvae, and high or low-protein diets as adults. Workers fed low-protein diets at both life stages had the lowest levels of ovary development, followed by those fed high-protein diets as larvae and low- quality diets as adults, and then those fed diets poor in protein as larvae but high as adults. Workers fed high-protein diets at both life stages had the highest levels of ovary development. The increases in ovary development due to improved dietary protein in the larval and adult life stages were additive. Adult diet also had an effect on body mass. The results demonstrate that both carry-over of larval reserves and nutrients acquired in the adult life stage are important to ovary development in worker honey bees. Carry-over from larval development, however, appears to be less important to adult fecundity than is adult nutrition. Seasonal trends in worker ovary development and mass were examined throughout the brood rearing season. Worker ovary development was lowest in spring, highest in mid-summer, and intermediate in fall.