Colony Integration in Honey Bees: Mechanisms of Behavioral Reversion

Gene E. Robinson, Robert E. Page, Colette Strambi, Alain Strambi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

123 Scopus citations


After confirming that worker honey bees (Apis mellifera) can revert from foraging to brood care, we determined whether juvenile hormone (JH) mediates this form of plasticity in behavioral development and whether worker age and genotype influence the probability of its expression. Measurements of JH titers support the hypothesis that plasticity in honey bee behavioral development is a consequence of modulation of JH by extrinsic factors. Observations of individually marked bees in a colony composed of two phenotypically distinguishable subfamilies revealed that the likelihood of undergoing behavioral reversion was influenced by worker age but not by worker genotype. The effect of worker age on reversion is consistent with a previously formulated model for the regulation of age polyethism in honey bees that predicts that workers of different ages have different response thresholds for task‐associated stimuli. The lack of a genotypic effect on reversion is in contrast to results for other forms of behavioral plasticity. 1992 Blackwell Verlag GmbH

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)336-348
Number of pages13
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1992
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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