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Pheromone increases foraging honey bees, leads to healthier hives
Date:2/11/2011

utrition, pheromone biology and pollination in OSU's Department of Horticulture. "Colonies exposed to low levels of synthetic brood pheromone exhibited higher foraging populations, a decrease in the age of first foraging and greater foraging effort. The result is increased colony growth an indicator of colony fitness."

The researchers also treated colonies with high levels of brood pheromone. They found the higher treatments were ineffective in increasing the number of foraging bees present in the colony, and in changing the amount of pollen an individual bee brought back to the hive.

"It's logical to assume that a higher dose of pheromone would result in higher pollen collection within the colonies as it would signify more larvae to rear," said Sagili. "Our results did not support that assumption."

An upper threshold for the pheromone may exist and when that threshold is reached a negative feedback might kick in, said Sagili. Colonies may try to balance the ratio of adults to larvae, and that in turn may lead to higher number of adults remaining in the nest for brood care and less bees foraging for resources.

Brood pheromone is not currently used in commercial bee keeping, however its application in research may result in the uncovering of mechanisms related to the division of labor, foraging strategies and colony fitness.


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Contact: Ramesh Sagili
sagilir@hort.oregonstate.edu
541-737-5460
Oregon State University
Source:Eurekalert

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