Bumble bees are eusocial bees in which the division of labor (DoL) in reproduction and in task performance changes during their annual lifecycle. The queen monopolizes reproduction in young colonies, but at later stages, some workers start to challenge the queen and lay their own unfertilized eggs. The division of colony maintenance and growth tasks relates to worker body size. Reproduction and task performance are regulated by multiple social signals of the queen, the workers, and the brood. Here, we review recent studies suggesting that bumble bees use multiple sources of information to establish and maintain DoL in both reproduction and in task performance. Juvenile hormone (JH) is an important neuroendocrine signal involved in the regulation of DoL in reproduction but not in worker task performance. The reliance on multiple signals facilitates flexibility in face of changes in the social and geophysical environment.
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