Effects of social environment and worker mandibular glands on endocrine-mediated behavioral development in honey bees
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Previous studies suggest that older honey bee workers possess an inhibitory signal that regulates behavioral development in younger bees. To study how this inhibitor is transmitted, bees were reared for 7 days in double-screen cages, single-screen cages, or unrestricted in a typical colony (control bees). Double-screen cages prevented physical contact with colony members while single-screen cages allowed only antennation and food exchange. Bees reared in double-screen cages showed accelerated endocrine and behavioral development; they had significantly higher rates of juvenile hormone biosynthesis and juvenile hormone titers than did control bees and also were more likely to become precocious foragers. Relative to the other two groups, bees reared in single-screen cages showed intermediate juvenile hormone biosynthesis rates and titers, and intermediate rates of behavioral development. These results indicate that physical contact is required for total inhibition. We also began to test the hypothesis that worker mandibular glands are the sources of an inhibitory signal. Old bees with mandibular glands removed were significantly less inhibitory towards young bees than were sham-operated and unoperated bees. These results suggest that an inhibitor is produced by the worker mandibular glands.
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