The influence of the vibration signal on worker interactions with the nest and nest mates in established and newly founded colonies of the honey bee, Apis mellifera
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Honey bees adjust cooperative activities to colony needs, based in part on information acquired through interactions with the nest and nest mates. We examined the role of the vibration signal in these interactions by investigating the influence of the signal on the movement rates, cell inspection activity, and trophallaxis behavior of workers in established and newly founded colonies of the honey bee, Apis mellifera. Compared to non-vibrated control bees, vibrated recipients in both colony types exhibited increased movement through the nest and greater cell inspection activity, which potentially increased contact with stimuli that enhanced task performance. Also, compared to controls, recipients in both colony types showed increased rates of trophallactic interactions and spent more time engaged in trophallaxis, which potentially further increased the acquisition of information about colony needs. The vibration signal may therefore help to organize labor in honey bees in part by increasing the rate at which workers obtain information about their colony. Vibrated recipients in the established and newly founded colonies did not differ in any aspect of behavior examined, suggesting that colony developmental state did not influence the degree to which individual workers responded to the signal. However, previous work has demonstrated that newly founded colonies have increased levels of vibration signal behavior. Thus, the vibration signal may help to adjust worker activity to colony conditions partly by stimulating greater numbers of bees to acquire information about colony needs, rather than by altering the level at which individual recipients react to the signal.
Keywords:Vibration signal modulatory communication information flow communication signals trophallaxis
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