Effect of pheromones, hormones, and handling on sucrose response thresholds of honey bees (Apis mellifera L.)

T. Pankiw, R. E. Page

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

133 Scopus citations


The responsiveness of bees to sucrose is an important indicator of honey bee foraging decisions. Correlated with sucrose responsiveness is forage choice behavior, age of first foraging, and conditioned learning response. Pheromones and hormones are significant components in social insect systems associated with the regulation of colony-level and individual foraging behavior. Bees were treated to different exposure regimes of queen and brood pheromones and their sucrose responsiveness measured. Bees reared with queen or brood pheromone were less responsive than controls. Our results suggest responsiveness to sucrose is a physiologically, neuronally mediated response. Orally administered octopamine significantly reduced sucrose response thresholds. Change in response to octopamine was on a time scale of minutes. The greatest separation between octopamine treated and control bees occurred 30 min after feeding. There was no significant sucrose response difference to doses ranging from 0.2 μg to 20 μg of octopamine. Topically applied methoprene significantly increased sucrose responsiveness. Handling method significantly affected sucrose responsiveness. Bees that were anesthetized by chilling or CO2 treatment were significantly more responsive than control bees 30 min after handling. Sixty minutes after handling there were no significant treatment differences. We concluded that putative stress effects of handling were blocked by anesthetic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)675-684
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Comparative Physiology A: Neuroethology, Sensory, Neural, and Behavioral Physiology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Honeybee
  • Octopamine
  • Pharmacology pheromone
  • Response threshold

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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