Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 30, Issue 5, pp 291–295 | Cite as

Intra-colonial foraging specialism by honey bees (Apis mellifera) (Hymenoptera:Apidae)

  • Benjamin P. Oldroyd
  • Thomas E. Rinderer
  • Steven M. Buco


Colonies of honey bees with two identifiable subfamilies were established. Returning foragers were captured and killed at two different sampling times. The mean volume and per cent soluble solids of crop contents were determined for each subfamily, as was the mean weight of the pollen pellets. No significant differences in nectar volume or concentration were detected between subfamilies within colonies. However, in a few colonies, significant subfamily by sampling-time interactions were present, suggesting that in these colonies subfamilies differed in their nectar and pollen collecting behavior at different times of day. The plant genera worked by pollen foragers were also determined. In four of six colonies, bees of different subfamilies were found to be majoring on different plant species (Fig. 1). Implications of this intra-colonial variance in foraging behavior for colony fitness are discussed.


Plant Species Sampling Time Soluble Solid Plant Genus Nectar Volume 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Alpatov WW (1929) Biometrical study on variation and races of the honeybee. Q Rev Biol 4:1–58Google Scholar
  2. Barker RJ (1978) Poisoning by plants. In: Morse RA (ed) Honey bee pests, predators and diseases. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, pp 275–296Google Scholar
  3. Calderone NW, Page RE (1988) Genotypic variability in age polyethism and task specialization in the honey bee, Apis mellifera (Hymenoptera:Apidae). Behav Ecol Sociobiol 22:17–25Google Scholar
  4. Calderone NW, Page RE (1992) Effects of interactions among genetically diverse nestmates on task specialization by foraging honey bees (Apis mellifera). Behav Ecol Sociobiol 30:219–226Google Scholar
  5. Calderone NW, Robinson GE, Page RE (1989) Genetic structure and division of labor in honeybee societies. Experientia 45:765–767Google Scholar
  6. Crozier RH, Page RE (1985) On being the right size: male contributions and multiple mating in the social Hymenoptera. Behav ecol Sociobiol 18:105–115Google Scholar
  7. Hellmich RL, Kulinćevíc JM, Rothenbuhler WC (1985) Selection for high and low pollen hoarding honey bees. J Hered 76:155–158Google Scholar
  8. Kerr WE, Martinho MR, Gonçalves LS (1980) Kinship selection in bees. Rev Brasil Genet 3:339–344Google Scholar
  9. Laidlaw HH, Page RE (1984) Polyandry in honeybees (Apis mellifera L.): Sperm utilization and intracolony genetic relationships. Genetics 108:985–997Google Scholar
  10. Lindauer M (1953) Division of labor in the honeybee colony. Bee World 34:63–73 & 85–91Google Scholar
  11. Mackensen O, Nye WP (1969) Selective breeding of honeybees for alfalfa pollen collection: Sixth generation of selection and outcrosses. J Apic Res 8:9–12Google Scholar
  12. Mackensen O, Tucker SC (1973) Preference for some other pollens shown by lines of honeybees selected for high and low alfalfa pollen collection. J Apic Res 12:187–190Google Scholar
  13. Metha CR, Patel NR (1983) A network algorithm for performing Fisher's exact test in r × c contingency tables. J Am Stat Assoc 78:427–434Google Scholar
  14. Oldroyd BP, Rinderer TE, Buco SM (1991) Honey bees dance with their super sisters. Anim Behav 42:121–129Google Scholar
  15. Page RE (1980) The evolution of multiple mating behavior by honey bee queens (Apis mellifera). Genetics 96:263–273Google Scholar
  16. Page RE, Kimsey RB, Laidlaw HH (1984) Migration and dispersal of spermatozoa in spermathecae of queen honeybees (Apis mellifera L.) Experientia 40:182–184Google Scholar
  17. Page RE, Robinson GE, Calderone NW, Rothenbuhler WC (1989) Genetic structure, division of labor, and the evolution of insect societies. In: Breed MD, Page RE (eds) The genetics of social evolution. Westview Press, Boulder, pp 15–29Google Scholar
  18. Robinson GE, Page RE (1989) Genetic determination of nectar foraging, pollen foraging and nest-site scouting in honey bee colonies. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 24:317–323Google Scholar
  19. Schmidt JO (1982) Pollen foraging preferences of honey bees. Southwest Entomol 7:255–259Google Scholar
  20. Schmidt JO (1984) Feeding preferences of Apis mellifera L. (Hymenoptera:Apidae): Individual versus mixed pollen loads. J Kans Entomol Soc 57:323–327Google Scholar
  21. Schmidt JO, Johnson BE (1984) Pollen feeding preference of Apis mellifera, a polylectic bee. Southwest Entomol 9:41–47Google Scholar
  22. Shaskolsky DV (1976) Polyandry — A defending factor against a great number of lethal eggs. In: Apimondia Symposium on Bee Biology, Moscow, USSR. Genetics, selection and reproduction of the honey bee. Apimondia Publishing House, Bucharest, pp 67–71Google Scholar
  23. Sherman PW, Seeley TD, Reeve HK (1988) Parasites, pathogens and polyandry in social hymenoptera. Am Nat 131:602–610Google Scholar
  24. Sylvester HA, Rinderer TE, Bolten AB (1983) Honey sac contents: A technique for collection and measurement in foraging honey bees (Hymenoptera:Apidae) J Econ Entomol 76:204–206Google Scholar
  25. Taber S (1955) Sperm distribution in the spermathecae of multiple-mated queen honey bees. J Econ Entomol 48:522–525Google Scholar
  26. Waddington KD (1989) Implications of variation in worker body size for the honey bee recruitment system. J Insect Behav 2:91–103Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Benjamin P. Oldroyd
    • 1
  • Thomas E. Rinderer
    • 1
  • Steven M. Buco
    • 2
  1. 1.USDA-ARSHoney-Bee Breeding, Genetics and Physiology Research LaboratoryBaton RougeUSA
  2. 2.Statistical ResourcesBaton RougeUSA

Personalised recommendations