Free Access
Volume 37, Number 5, September-October 2006
Page(s) 533 - 546
Published online 12 September 2006
Apidologie 37 (2006) 533-546
DOI: 10.1051/apido:2006037

The effects of pollen availability during larval development on the behaviour and physiology of spring-reared honey bee workers

Heather R. Mattilaa, b and Gard W. Otisa

a  Department of Environmental Biology, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON, Canada, N1G 2W1
b  Present address: Department of Neurobiology and Behavior, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, 14853, USA

(Received 18 September 2005 - Revised 16 December 2005 - Accepted 20 December 2005 - published online 12 September 2006)

Abstract - Over two years, we investigated the effects of altering the availability of pollen in colonies during the spring on the physiology, longevity and division of labour of spring-reared workers. In the first year, workers reared in colonies supplemented with pollen were longer-lived but lighter and less protein-rich at emergence than workers reared in colonies with limited pollen supplies. In the second year, patterns were different and workers reared in colonies with pollen supplements were shortest-lived but similar physiologically to workers from colonies with less pollen. As adults, these workers also spent more time tending brood, less time patrolling or resting idly on the comb and were less likely to participate in foraging than workers reared in pollen-limited colonies. The availability of pollen during larval development influenced worker traits, but variability in response across years is also attributable to other environmental factors that were not controlled in these studies.

Key words: Apis mellifera / pollen / nursing / division of labour / worker quality

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© INRA, DIB-AGIB, EDP Sciences 2006