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The effects of rearing temperature on developmental stability and learning and memory in the honey bee, Apis mellifera

Abstract

Honey bee workers maintain the brood nest of their colony within a narrow temperature range of 34.5±1.5°C, implying that there are significant fitness costs if brood is reared outside the normal range. However, the effects of abnormal incubation temperatures are subtle and not well documented. Here we show that short-term learning and memory abilities of adult workers are affected by the temperature they experienced during pupal development. In contrast, long-term learning and memory is not significantly affected by rearing temperature. Furthermore, we could detect no effects of incubation temperature on fluctuating asymmetry, as a measure of developmental stability, in workers, queens or drones. We conclude that the most important consequence of abnormal rearing temperatures are subtle neural deficiencies affecting short-term memory rather than physical abnormalities.

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Fig. 1
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Abbreviations

FA:

Fluctuating asymmetry

FDR:

False discovery rate

LT:

Long-term

PER:

Proboscis extension reflex

ST:

Short-term

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Acknowledgements

We thank Michael Duncan for his help with bee-keeping. This research was funded by an ARC grant to B. P. Oldroyd and R. H. Crozier. Our experiments comply with the “Principles of animal care”, publication No. 86–23, revised 1985 of the National Institute of Health, and also with the current laws of Australia where the experiments were performed.

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Correspondence to Julia C. Jones.

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Jones, J.C., Helliwell, P., Beekman, M. et al. The effects of rearing temperature on developmental stability and learning and memory in the honey bee, Apis mellifera . J Comp Physiol A 191, 1121–1129 (2005). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00359-005-0035-z

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00359-005-0035-z

Keywords

  • Temperature
  • Developmental stability
  • Learning and memory
  • Honey bee