Free Access
Volume 33, Number 4, July-August 2002
Page(s) 367 - 373

Apidologie 33 (2002) 367-373
DOI: 10.1051/apido:2002026

How a honey bee colony mustered additional labor for the task of pollen foraging

Randi D. Rotjana, Nicholas W. Calderoneb and Thomas D. Seeleya

a  Department of Neurobiology and Behavior, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA
b  Department of Entomology, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA

(Received 21 January 2001; revised 26 January 2002; accepted 5 February 2002)

This study examined how a honey bee colony supplied additional labor for a foraging task, pollen collection, when the demand for this task was increased. When we experimentally raised a colony's pollen need from one day to the next, we found that the colony boosted the labor devoted to pollen collecting (measured in terms of the number of pollen collection trips per day, P) by a factor of 24.8. The number of pollen foragers (N) was increased (by recruiting and task switching) by a factor of 12.4, while the number of collecting trips per pollen forager per day (T) was increased by a factor of 2.0 (note that P = N $\times$ T). The increase in number of pollen foragers was produced mostly (73%) by the recruiting of non-foragers to the task and to a smaller extent (27%) by the switching of non-pollen foragers to the task.

Key words: foraging / pollen collection / recruitment / task switching / work tempo

Correspondence and reprints: Thomas D. Seeley

© INRA, EDP Sciences, DIB, AGIB 2002