Genotype and rearing environment affect honeybee perception and foraging behaviour

Tanya Pankiw, David R. Tarpy, Robert E. Page

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


We tested the effects of larval and preforaging rearing environment on the foraging behaviour and sucrose response thresholds of honeybees, Apis mellifera L., derived from high and low pollen-hoarding strains. Bees were reared as larvae and as preforaging adults in colonies containing high and low pollen-hoarding strains, then cofostered in unrelated common wild-type colonies from which to forage. Genotype, but not rearing environment, had strong effects on the likelihood to forage for pollen or nectar, the size of pollen or nectar load, and the concentration of sugar in the nectar they collected. Genotype and rearing environment affected adult wet weights and sucrose concentration response threshold, as measured with the proboscis extension response assay. Bees from the high pollen-hoarding strain were more sensitive to conditions of the rearing environment than were bees of the low strain. High- and low-strain bees produced different colony environments that affected developmental, behavioural and physical traits of the individuals they reared. This demonstrates how genotype and colony environment correlate and affect phenotype.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)663-672
Number of pages10
JournalAnimal Behaviour
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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