Octopamine and tyramine influence the behavioral profile of locomotor activity in the honey bee (Apis mellifera)

Brendon L. Fussnecker, Brian Smith, Julie A. Mustard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

95 Scopus citations


The biogenic amines octopamine and tyramine are believed to play a number of important roles in the behavior of invertebrates including the regulation of motor function. To investigate the role of octopamine and tyramine in locomotor behavior in honey bees, subjects were injected with a range of concentrations of octopamine, tyramine, mianserin or yohimbine. Continuous observation of freely moving worker bees was used to examine the effects of these treatments on the amount of time honey bees spent engaged in different locomotor behaviors such as walking, grooming, fanning and flying. All treatments produced significant shifts in behavior. Decreases in time spent walking and increases in grooming or stopped behavior were observed for every drug. However, the pattern of the shift depended on drug, time after injection and concentration. Flying behavior was differentially affected with increases in flying seen in octopamine treated bees, whereas those receiving tyramine showed a decrease in flying. Taken together, these data provide evidence that octopamine and tyramine modulate motor function in the honey bee perhaps via interaction with central pattern generators or through effects on sensory perception.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1083-1092
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of insect physiology
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2006


  • Biogenic amines
  • Central pattern generator
  • Flying
  • Grooming
  • Trace amines

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Insect Science


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