Length of life, age at first foraging and foraging life of Africanized and European honey bee (Apis mellifera) workers, during conditions of resource abundance
Felipe Becerra-Guzmán, Ernesto Guzmán-Novoa, Adriana Correa-Benítez and Antonio Zozaya-Rubio
This study was conducted to analyse the length of life, the age at which bees began to forage, and the foraging life of European and Africanized worker honey bees (Apis mellifera) during conditions of resource abundance. Newly emerged worker bees were identified with coloured paint or numbered plastic tags on their thorax, and were co-fostered in common colonies of European, Africanized or unrelated bee origin to infer if the variation found was due to genetic or environmental effects. Both European and Africanized bees varied significantly in their length of life, within a range of 19.9 to 25.9 days, but there was no clear and consistent difference for this trait between the two types of bees. Hive and colony environment influenced the length of life of both bee types. Bees lived longer in colonies with Africanized environment. These results suggest that genetic effects influence the length of life of workers bees to a lesser degree than do environmental effects. The age at which bees began foraging affected both the length of life and the foraging life of the experimental workers. Bees that started to forage late in life lived longer than those that started early. Additionally, bees that initiated foraging activities at a younger age had a longer foraging life. The strongest correlation was between length of life and foraging life (ρ = 0.66), indicating that bees that lived longer also had a longer foraging life. Bees with the longest foraging lives were those that began to forage early in life and that also lived as long or longer than average bees. European bees had longer foraging lives than Africanized bees. The implications of these results on the life-history strategies of Africanized and European bees are discussed.