Appetite is correlated with octopamine and hemolymph sugar levels in forager honeybees

Christopher Mayack, Nicole Phalen, Kathleen Carmichael, Helen K. White, Frank Hirche, Ying Wang, Gabriele I. Stangl, Gro V. Amdam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Insects have rapidly changing energy demands, so they primarily rely on hemolymph and other carbohydrates to carry out life activities. However, how gustatory responsiveness and hemolymph sugar levels coordinate with one another to maintain energetic homeostasis in insects remains largely unknown for the highly social honeybee that goes through large physiological and behavioral changes. The potential role of biogenic amines and neuropeptides in the connection between the regulation of appetite and fluctuating sugar levels in the hemolymph, due to starvation, as the bee ages, was investigated. The largest appetite increase due to the starvation treatment was within the forager age class and this corresponded with an increase in octopamine levels in the brain along with a decline in hemolymph sugar levels. Adipokinetic hormone (AKH) was found in very small quantities in the brain and there were no significant changes in response to starvation treatment. Our findings suggest that the particularly dynamic levels of hemolymph sugar levels may serve as a monitor of the forager honeybee energetic state. Therefore, there may be a pathway in forager bees via octopamine responsible for their precise precipitous regulation of appetite, but to determine cause and effect relationships further investigation is needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)609-617
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Comparative Physiology A: Neuroethology, Sensory, Neural, and Behavioral Physiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2019


  • Aging
  • Biogenic amines
  • Hemolymph
  • Starvation
  • Trehalose

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Physiology
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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