Hormonal and Genetic Control of Behavioral Integration in Honey Bee Colonies

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  06 Oct 1989:
Vol. 246, Issue 4926, pp. 109-112
DOI: 10.1126/science.246.4926.109


The ability of insect colonies to adjust the division of labor among workers in response to changing environmental and colony conditions, coupled with research showing genetic effects on the division of labor in honey bee colonies, led to an investigation of the role of genetics and the environment in the integration of worker behavior. Measurements of juvenile hormone(JH) titers and allozyme analyses of worker honey bees suggest that two processes are involved in colony-level regulation of division of labor: (i) plasticity in age-dependent behavior is a consequence of modulation of JH titers by extrinsic factors, and (ii) stimuli that can affect JH titers and age-dependent behavior do elicit variable responses among genetically distinct subpopulations of workers within a colony. These results provide a new perspective on the developmental plasticity of insect colonies and support the emerging view that colony genetic structure affects behavioral organization.

Stay Connected to Science