Genotype and colony environment affect honeybee (Apis mellifera L.) development and foraging behavior

Tanya Pankiw, Robert E. Page

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

84 Scopus citations


We examined the interaction of genotype and environment on foraging-behavior development and forage choice in honeybees. High- and low-pollen-hoarding strains and unselected wild-type bees were co-fostered in pairs of colonies manipulated to differentially stimulate high and low pollen foraging. The high-pollen-foraging stimulus consisted of high amounts of larvae, a known stimulus for pollen foraging, plus low amounts of pollen, known to induce pollen foraging. The low-pollen-foraging stimulus consisted of low amounts of larvae plus high amounts of pollen. We estimated the median age at which bees initiated foraging, determined forage choice, and the quality and quantity of resources collected. High-strain bees consistently foraged at younger ages than workers from the other sources. High-strain bees appeared to be more sensitive to the pollen-foraging-stimulus treatments, showing greater differences in foraging age and behavior. Three-way interactions of genotype, pollen foraging stimulus, and colony pair (replicate) were statistically significant for most foraging variables measured suggesting that additional, unknown environmental factors also affect foraging behavior. Our results suggest there is a functional relationship between age of first foraging and forage choice with a strong genetic component that is modulated by colony environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)87-94
Number of pages8
JournalBehavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2001


  • Foraging behavior
  • Genotype-environment interaction
  • Honeybee ontogeny

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


Dive into the research topics of 'Genotype and colony environment affect honeybee (Apis mellifera L.) development and foraging behavior'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this