Honey bee (Apis mellifera) sociability and nestmate affiliation are dependent on the social environment experienced post-eclosion

Susie E. Hewlett, Deborah M. Wareham, Andrew B. Barron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Underpinning the formation of a social group is the motivation of individuals to aggregate and interact with conspecifics, termed sociability. Here, we developed an assay, inspired by vertebrate approaches to evaluate social behaviours, to simultaneously examine the development of honey bee (Apis mellifera) sociability and nestmate affiliation. Focal bees were placed in a testing chamber which was separated from groups of nestmates and conspecific nonnestmates by single-layer mesh screens. Assessing how much time bees spent contacting the two mesh screens allowed us to quantify simultaneously how much bees sought proximity and interaction with other bees and their preference for nestmates over non-nestmates. Both sociability and nestmate affiliation could be detected soon after emergence as an adult. Isolation early in adult life impaired honey bee sociability but there was no evidence for a critical period for the development of the trait, as isolated bees exposed to their hive for 24 h when as old as 6 days still recovered high levels of sociability. Our data show that, even for advanced social insects, sociability is a developmental phenomenon and experience dependent.

LanguageEnglish
Article number173054
Pages1-8
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Volume221
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 13 Feb 2018

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social environment
Honey
Social Environment
Bees
honey
Apis mellifera
bee
honey bees
eclosion
Apoidea
social insects
social behavior
social insect
vertebrates
Social Behavior
Urticaria
vertebrate
Insects
Vertebrates
Motivation

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2018. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.

Cite this

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Honey bee (Apis mellifera) sociability and nestmate affiliation are dependent on the social environment experienced post-eclosion. / Hewlett, Susie E.; Wareham, Deborah M.; Barron, Andrew B.

In: Journal of Experimental Biology, Vol. 221, No. 3, 173054, 13.02.2018, p. 1-8.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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