What makes a honeybee scout?
- 259 Downloads
A honeybee colony needs to divide its workforce so that each of the many tasks it performs has an appropriate number of workers assigned to it. This task allocation system needs to be flexible enough to allow the colony to quickly adapt to an ever-changing environment. In this study, we examined possible mechanisms by which a honeybee colony regulates the division of labor between scouts (foragers that search for new food sources without having been guided to them) and recruits (foragers that were guided via recruitment dances toward food sources). Specifically, we examined the roles that the availability of recruitment dances and worker genotype has in the colony-level regulation of the number of workers engaged in scouting. Our approach was threefold. We first developed a mathematical model to demonstrate that the decision to become a scout or a recruit could be regulated by whether a potential forager can find a recruitment dance within a certain time period. We then tested this model by investigating the effect of dance availability on the regulation of scouts in the field. Lastly, we investigated if the probability of being a scout has a genetic basis. Our field data supported the hypothesis that scouts are those foragers that have failed to locate a recruitment dance as predicted by our model, but we found no effect of genotype on the propensity of foragers to become scouts.
KeywordsApis Division of labor Foraging Honeybees Scouting
- Dreller C, Fondrk MK, Page RE (1995) Genetic variability affects the behavior of foragers in a feral honeybee colony. Naturwissenschaften 80:231–266Google Scholar
- Erdfelder E, Faul F, Buchner A (1996) GPOWER: a general power analysis program. Behav Res Meth Instrum Comput 28:1–11Google Scholar
- von Frisch K (1923) Über die “Sprache” der Bienen, eine tier-psychologische Untersuchung. Zool Jahrb 40:1–186Google Scholar
- von Frisch K (1967) The dance language and orientation of bees. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MAGoogle Scholar
- Janson S, Middendorf M, Beekman M (2007) Searching for a new home scouting behavior of honeybee swarms. Behavioral Ecology in pressGoogle Scholar
- Oldroyd BP, Smolenski A, Cornuet J-M, Wongsiri S, Estoup A, Rinderer TE, Crozier RH (1996) Levels of polyandry and intracolonial genetic relationships in Apis dorsata (Hymenoptera: Apidae). Ann Entomol Soc Am 89:276–283Google Scholar
- Pasteels JM, Deneubourg J-L, Goss S (1987) Self-organization mechanisms in ant societies (I): trail recruitment to newly discovered food sources. Experientia Suppl 54:155–175Google Scholar
- Seeley TD (1995) The wisdom of the hive. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MAGoogle Scholar
- Sumpter DJT (2000) From bee to society: an agent-based investigation of honey bee colonies. Ph.D. thesis, University of Manchester, ManchesterGoogle Scholar
- Sumpter DJT, Pratt SC (2003) A modelling framework for understanding social insect foraging. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 53:131–144Google Scholar
- Waddington KD, Visscher PK, Herbert TJ, Raveret Richter M (1994) Comparisons of forager distributions from matched honey bee colonies in suburban environments. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 35:423–429Google Scholar
- Zar JH (1996) Biostatistical analysis. Prentice-Hall, Upper Saddle River, NJGoogle Scholar