Colony Volatiles and Substrate-borne Vibrations Entrain Circadian Rhythms and Are Potential Cues Mediating Social Synchronization in Honey Bee Colonies

Oliver Siehler*, Guy Bloch

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations

Abstract

Internal circadian clocks organize animal behavior and physiology and are entrained by ecologically relevant external time-givers such as light and temperature cycles. In the highly social honey bee, social time-givers are potent and can override photic entrainment, but the cues mediating social entrainment are unknown. Here, we tested whether substrate-borne vibrations and hive volatiles can mediate social synchronization in honey bees. We first placed newly emerged worker bees on the same or on a different substrate on which we placed cages with foragers entrained to ambient day-night cycles, while minimizing the spread of volatiles between cages. In the second experiment, we exposed young bees to constant airflow drawn from either a free-foraging colony or a similar-size control hive containing only heated empty honeycombs, while minimizing transfer of substrate-borne vibrations between cages. After 6 days, we isolated each focal bee in an individual cage in an environmental chamber and monitored her locomotor activity. We repeated each experiment 5 times, each trial with bees from a different source colony, monitoring a total of more than 1000 bees representing diverse genotypes. We found that bees placed on the same substrate as foragers showed a stronger phase coherence and a phase more similar to that of foragers compared with bees placed on a different substrate. In the second experiment, bees exposed to air drawn from a colony showed a stronger phase coherence and a phase more similar to that of foragers compared with bees exposed to air from an empty hive. These findings lend credence to the hypothesis that surrogates of activity entrain circadian rhythms and suggest that multiple social cues can act in concert to entrain social insect colonies to a common phase.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)246-256
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Biological Rhythms
Volume35
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Author(s).

Keywords

  • circadian rhythms
  • honey bees
  • nonphotic entrainment
  • olfactory signals
  • self-organization
  • social insects
  • social synchronization
  • vibrations

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