Genetic control of the honey bee (Apis mellifera) dance language

Segregating dance forms in a backcrossed colony

R. N. Johnson, B. P. Oldroyd, A. B. Barron, Ross H. Crozier*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

15 Citations (Scopus)


We studied the genetic control of the dance dialects that exist in the different subspecies of honey bees (Apis mellifera) by observing the variation in dance form observed in a backcross between two lines that showed widely different dance dialects. To do this we generated the reciprocal of the cross performed by Rinderer and Beaman (1995), thus producing phenotypic segregation of dance forms within a single colony rather than between colonies. Our results are consistent with Rinderer and Beaman (1995) in that inheritance of the transition point from round dancing → waggle dancing is consistent with control by a single locus with more than one allele. That is, we found one dance type to be dominant in the F1, and observed a 1:1 segregation of dance in a backcross involving the F1 and the recessive parent. However, we found some minor differences in dance dialect inheritance, with the most significant being an apparent reversal of dominance between our cross (for us "black" is the dominant dialect) and that of Rinderer and Beaman (1995) (they report "yellow" to be the dominant dialect). We also found that our black bees do not perform a distinct sickle dance, whereas the black bees used by Rinderer and Beaman (1995) did perform such a dance. However, our difference in dominance need not contradict the results of Rinderer and Beaman (1995), as there is no evidence that body color and dominance for dance dialect are linked.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)170-173
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Heredity
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 2002
Externally publishedYes

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