Free Access
Volume 29, Number 3, 1998
Page(s) 229 - 240
Apidologie 29 (1998) 229-240
DOI: 10.1051/apido:19980303

The identity of nest-site scouts in honey bee swarms

David C. Gilley

Section of Neurobiology and Behavior, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA

Abstract - The identity of the scout bees in a swarm of honey bees (Apis mellifera L.) is determined by 1) which bees of the parental colony leave in the swarm, and 2) which bees of the swarm scout for nest sites. This study identifies the nest-site scouts by comparing the age distributions of the parental colony, the foragers of the parental colony, the swarm, and nest-site scouts in the swarm for four prime swarms and two afterswarms. Statistical differences were found between the age distributions of the swarm and the parental colony, the scouts and the swarm, and the scouts and the foragers. The median age of the swarm bees was lower than that of the colony bees, that of the scouts was higher than that of the swarm bees, and that of the scouts was slightly less than that of the foragers. These results suggest that the nest-site scouts are primarily middle-aged bees which have foraging or flight experience. Functional hypotheses for these results are discussed. © Inra/DIB/AGIB/Elsevier, Paris

Key words: Apis mellifera / honey bee / swarm / scout bee / age distribution