Insectes Sociaux

, Volume 37, Issue 1, pp 58–72 | Cite as

Effects of swarm type on temporal caste polyethism in the honey bee,Apis mellifera L. (Hymenoptera: Apidae)

  • K. Naumann
  • M. L. Winston


The performance of two tasks, wax production and foraging, was compared between colonies founded by prime swarms and afterswarms of honey bees. Workers began foraging at older ages in afterswarms and this delay was generally coupled with a longer duration of wax production. Differences in task performance between swarm types demonstrate the integration of a flexible behavioral caste system into life history. No relationships were found between swarm population size and ages of task performance, suggesting that breaks in brood rearing and upward shifts in worker age distribution were responsible for delays in the ontogeny of temporal castes in afterswarm-founded colonies.


Population Size Life History Task Performance Upward Shift Temporal Caste 
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Les effets des différents types d'essaims sur la division temporelle des tâches des abeilles mellifères (Hymenoptera: Apidae)


L'exécution de deux tâches, butinage et production de cire, a été comparée pour des colonies d'abeilles mellifères issues d'essaims principaux et d'essaims secondaires. Dans les colonies d'essaims secondaires, les ouvrières ont tendance à commencer le butinage à des âges plus avancés. Ce delai est généralement accompagné d'une plus longue production de cire. Les différences dans l'exécution des tâches des deux sortes d'essaims démontrent l'incorporation d'un système flexible de castes temporelles dans la vie d'une colonie. Aucune relation n'a pu être observée entre le nombre d'abeilles dans les essaims et les âges auxquels les tâches furent exécutées. Il est donc suggeré que les interruptions d'élevage du couvain et des changements dans la distribution des âges vers des ouvrières plus âgées furent responsables des délais de l'ontogenèse des castes temporelles de colonies originaires d'essaims secondaires.


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Copyright information

© Masson 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • K. Naumann
    • 1
  • M. L. Winston
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesSimon Fraser UniversityBurnabyCanada

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