The Robinson Lab

Neuroendocrine (Juvenile Hormone) Influence on Rate of Behavioral Development

Behavioral development in the adult worker honey bee (Apis mellifera), from performing tasks inside the hive to foraging, is associated with an increase in the blood titer of juvenile hormone III (JH), and hormone treatment results in precocious foraging. To study behavioral development in the absence of JH we removed its glandular source, the corpora allata, in 1-day-old adult bees. The age at onset of foraging for allatectomized bees in typical colonies was significantly older compared with sham-operated bees in 3 out of 4 colonies; this delay was eliminated by hormone replacement in 3 out of 3 colonies. To determine the effects of corpora allata removal on sensitivity to changes in conditions that influence the rate of behavioral development, we used "single-cohort"colonies (composed only of young bees) in which some colony members initiate foraging precociously. Allatectomized bees initiated foraging at significantly younger ages in single-cohort colonies than in typical colonies. These results demonstrate that JH influences the pace of behavioral development in honey bees, but is not essential for either foraging or altering behavioral development in response to changes in conditions.

Representative Publications

Elekonich MM, Schulz DJ, Bloch G, Robinson GE (2001) Juvenile hormone in forager honey bees: effects of experience and diurnal variation. J. Insect Physiol. 47:1119-1125. (pdf)

Jassim O, Huang Z, Robinson GE (2000) Juvenile hormone profiles of worker honey bees during normal and accelerated behavioral development. J. Insect Physiol. 46:243-249.

Sullivan JP, Jassim O, Fahrbach SE, Robinson GE (2000) Juvenile hormone paces behavioral development in the adult worker honey bee. Hormones and Behavior 37:1-14.

Robinson GE, Vargo EL (1997) Juvenile hormone in the social Hymenoptera: gonadotropin and behavioral pacemaker. Arch. Insect Biochem. Physiol. 35:559-583.