Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 61, Issue 9, pp 1471–1478 | Cite as

Effects of protein-constrained brood food on honey bee (Apis mellifera L.) pollen foraging and colony growth

Original Paper

Abstract

Pollen is the sole source of protein for honey bees, most importantly used to rear young. Honey bees are adept at regulating pollen stores in the colonies based on the needs of the colony. Mechanisms for regulation of pollen foraging in honey bee are complex and remain controversial. In this study, we used a novel approach to test the two competing hypothesis of pollen foraging regulation. We manipulated nurse bee biosynthesis of brood food using a protease inhibitor that interferes with midgut protein digestion, significantly decreasing the amount of protein extractable from hypopharyngeal glands. Experimental colonies were given equal amounts of protease inhibitor-treated and untreated pollen. Colonies receiving protease inhibitor treatment had significantly lower hypopharyngeal gland protein content than controls. There was no significant difference in the ratio of pollen to nonpollen foragers between the treatments. Pollen load weights were also not significantly different between treatments. Our results supported the pollen foraging effort predictions generated from the direct independent effects of pollen on the regulation of pollen foraging and did not support the prediction that nurse bees regulate pollen foraging through amount of hypopharyngeal gland protein biosynthesis.

Keywords

Honey bee Pollen foraging Protease inhibitor Brood food Hypopharyngeal glands 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EntomologyTexas A&M UniversityCollege StationUSA

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