Age-related division of labor in honeybees is associated with plasticity in circadian rhythms. Young nest bees care for brood around the clock with no circadian rhythms while older foragers have strong circadian rhythms that are used for sun compass navigation and for timing visits to flowers. Since juvenile hormone (JH) is involved in the coordination of physiological and behavioral processes underlying age-related division of labor in honey bees, we tested the hypothesis that JH influences the ontogeny of circadian rhythms and other clock parameters in young worker bees. Treatments with the JH analog methoprene or allatectomy did not influence the onset of rhythmicity, overall locomotor activity, or the free-running period of rhythmic locomotor behavior. There were, however, significant differences in the onset of rhythmicity, overall locomotor activity, and longevity between bees from different source colonies, suggesting that there is significant genetic variation for these traits. Our results suggest that JH does not coordinate all aspects of division of labor in bees and that coordination of task performance with circadian rhythms is probably mediated by other regulatory systems.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by Fulbright and BARD US–Israel postdoctoral fellowships to G.B., and NIH grant GM57196 to G.E.R. We thank Allan Ross for expert assistance with the bees.
- Circadian rhythms
- Division of labor
- Honey bee
- Juvenile hormone
- Locomotor activity