Intracolonial variance in hone bee foraging behaviour: the effects of sucrose concentration*+
Benjamin P Oldroyd; Thomas E Rinderer; Steven M Buco
The foraging response to varying sucrose concentrations of a colony of honey bees comprised of two identifiable subfamilies was determined. Bees of one subfamily never danced after foraging on a 2 mol/litre sucrose solution, while bees of the other subfamily often did so. Bees of both subfamilies responded to lowered sucrose concentration by reducing the number of foraging trips per hour, although one subfamily altered its rate of foraging more dramatically. When offered a 1 mol/litre sucrose solution at one feeding station and a 3 mol/litre solution at another after training with a 2 mol/litre solution, most bees did not switch to the more profitable feeding station. Rather, they remained faithful to their initial station, but reduced rates of foraging when sucrose concentration was reduced. The mean duration of dances was longer for one subfamily than the other, which increased the number of bees that followed dances performed by bees of that subfamily. Under one set of experimental conditions, dances indicating a 3 mol/litre solution attracted more followers than dances for a 2 mol/litre solution. We speculate that faithfulness to a particular foraging location is adaptive, since the time needed to learn a new location has a cost. We further speculate that genetic variance for rates, duration and attractiveness of dances may be adaptive, since these differences have the effect of spreading subfamilies among locales. Thus honey bee polyandry increases fitness by increasing eclectic foraging.