Juvenile hormone levels in honey bee (Apis mellifera L.) foragers: Foraging experience and diurnal variation

Michelle M. Elekonich*, David J. Schulz, Guy Bloch, Gene E. Robinson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


A rising blood titer of juvenile hormone (JH) in adult worker honey bees is associated with the shift from working in the hive to foraging. We determined whether the JH increase occurs in anticipation of foraging or whether it is a result of actual foraging experience and/or diurnal changes in exposure to sunlight. We recorded all foraging flights of tagged bees observed at a feeder in a large outdoor flight cage. We measured JH from bees that had taken 1, 3-5, or > 100 foraging flights and foragers of indeterminate experience leaving or entering the hive. To study diurnal variation in JH, we sampled foragers every 6 h over one day. Titers of JH in foragers were high relative to nurses as in previous studies, suggesting that conditions in the flight cage had no effect on the relationship between foraging behavior and JH. Titers of JH in foragers showed no significant effects of foraging experience, but did show significant diurnal variation. Our results indicate that the high titer of JH in foragers anticipates the onset of foraging and is not affected by foraging experience, but is modulated diurnally.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1119-1125
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Insect Physiology
Issue number10
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Kathy Jez for help with the behavioral observations, Allan Ross for technical support and maintaining the field colonies, David Borst for donating the JH antibodies for RIA, and Sam Beshers, Yehuda Ben-Shahar, and Joseph Sullivan for comments on the manuscript. This research was supported by Developmental Psychology and Neurobiology Institutional Training Grant fellowships (PHS 5 T32 HDO7333-12) to M.M.E. and D.J.S., a NRI/CREES grant to M.M.E. (USDA 99-35302-8187), Fulbright and BARD fellowships to G.B. and a NIH grant (GM47196) to G.E.R.


  • Apis
  • Behavioral development
  • Diurnal variation
  • Division of labor
  • Foraging
  • Juvenile hormone


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