Male behavioural maturation rate responds to selection on pollen hoarding in honeybees

Olav Rueppell, Robert Page, M. Kim Fondrk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Division of labour in social insect colonies relies on behavioural functional differentiation (specialization) of individuals with similar genomes. However, individual behavioural traits do not evolve independently of each other (behavioural syndromes). A prime example is the suite of behavioural differences in honeybee workers that has evolved in response to bidirectional selection on pollen hoarding of honeybee colonies (pollen-hoarding syndrome). More generally, these differences reflect functional differentiation between nectar and pollen foragers. We demonstrate here that this pollen-hoarding syndrome extends to drones. Similar to what has been shown in workers, drones from the high-pollen-hoarding strain had a higher locomotion activity after emergence, and they initiated flight earlier than did males derived from the low-pollen-hoarding strain, with hybrids intermediate. However, these two behavioural traits were unlinked at the individual level. We also found that social environment (the colony) affects the age at which drones initiate flight. The indirect selection responses of male behaviour suggest that male and worker evolution are not independent and may constrain each other's evolution. Furthermore, we identified three distinct peaks in the probability of flight initiation over the course of the experiment and a decreased phenotypic variability in the 'hybrid' males, contrary to quantitative genetic expectations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)227-234
Number of pages8
JournalAnimal Behaviour
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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