Genetic determinants of honey bee foraging behaviour

Robert E. Page, Keith D. Waddington, Greg J. Hunt, M. Kim Fondrk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

87 Scopus citations


The amount of pollen stored in honey bee, Apis mellifera, colonies is a selectable trait. Five generations of two-way selection resulted in high and low strains that differed more than six-fold in quantities of stored pollen. Comparisons with hybrid crosses suggested that colony-level, high pollen-hoarding behaviour is inherited as a recessive trait. Colony levels of stored honey, however, showed an over-dominant pattern, with hybrid colonies storing significantly more honey than either of the selected strains. Controlled studies of individual foraging behaviour revealed the same patterns of inheritance at the individual level: high-strain workers specialized on pollen foraging, low-strain workers on nectar, and hybrid workers demonstrated a significantlt greater nectar-collecting bias than workers of the low strain. Genomic mapping studies of colony-level pollen hoarding and individual foraging behaviour have revealed two genomic regions of the honey bee that contain major quantitative trait loci that explain a large portion of the observed variance in pollen hoarding and foraging behaviour of the two strains. The effects of major genes on within- and between-colony variation in individual foraging behaviour are discussed in the context of conducting and interpreting empirical tests of foraging theory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1617-1625
Number of pages9
JournalAnimal Behaviour
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1995
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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