Foraging Behavior of Honey Bee

                                                Behavior is defined as, “whatever animals do”. Here we are concerned with a particular group of animals i.e. Insects. So, Insects behavior is defined as, “a way in which insects adjust & interact with their environment. Insect behavior gives us the complete basic information about that insect. This behavior can be controlled by specific genes on molecular level. Some genes fully controlled the insect behavior while the effect of some genes is suppressed by some factors. Behavior can be controlled by the four types of components. These are hormonal neurobiological, molecular, and genetics & developmental. These components interact in very complex ways and it is difficult to define the boundaries between them. Genes are responsible for controlling a number of insects behavior including like feeding behavior, courtship behavior, reproductive behavior, feeding behavior, locomotory behavior, acoustic behavior& preening (cleaning behavior) etc. In Apis melifera a gene called period (per) which controls the circadian rhythms & development time in many insects. Circadian rhythm is a daily cycle of activities. These activities are performing by the insect in a specific time of 24 hours. Foraging behavior is the distinctive behavior of the honey bee. Foraging behavior in the honey bee is very interesting because a certain individual are going for searching the nectar and pollen while there is a thousand number of individuals stay in the hive and performing different types of work . How they know which bees are going to searching the food or stay in the hive. During active period of foraging and breeding approximately 25-30 % of the population is potentially a forager bee. Foraging flight for water pollen and nectar is 2-3, 6 and 12 km from hive. A strong colony can make up 35,000 foraging flights per day. Over 21 days old bees are consider as forager bees or worker bees which perform the out colony tasks such as water, nectar and pollen collecting.  Foraging is associated with titer juvenile hormone which is not affect by the foraging experience. The concentration of octopamine in the antennal lobes of the forager bee brain is high as compared to the nurse bees. Alberto Toma & his colleagues studied level of per mRNA effect the behavior of honey bees. They performed many experiments & found that per mRNA is significantly greater in forager bees (older bees) than non-forager bees (younger bees). This shows that foraging & non foraging behavior of honey bees is controlled by period (per) gene. There are several micro-RNAs, non-coding RNAs which controls gene expression down regulating in behavior of nurse bees. The division of labor in honey bee colonies is controlled by small segments of non-coding RNA called micro RNAs or mi RNAs. University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign” and “Institute for System Biology in Seattle”, demonstrate that the division of labor among honeybees coincides with the presence in their brains of tiny snippets of non coding RNA, called micro-RNAs that suppress the expression of genes. It is observed that the level of miRNA increases with an increase in age of honey bees. On the basis of the level of miRNA, different tasks are assigned to honey bees. A few days old worker has lower level of miRNA so is assigned to perform as nurse bee i.e. to feed larvae, to seal the cells that contain brood by secreting beeswax& attending to the queen. After about a week, when level of miRNA rises a bit, this nurse bee is shifted to other tasks including grooming nest mates, ventilating the nest & packing pollens. Only at the end of her life when this bee has a maximum level of miRNA, this bee performs as a forager, switch to searching outside for pollen, nectar, water & propolis (gummy plant resin used in nest repair).There are the different factors which affect the honey bee foraging. These factors divided into two factors. One factor is colony and other is out colony. Higher foraging activity with less pollen collection was found in colonies headed by virgin queens than colonies headed by mated queens while lower foraging activity and pollen collection were found in queen less colonies than in colonies with a mated or virgin queen. Availability of the pollen source or suitable plant is the main factors which affect the foraging behavior. A. mellifera bees were observed to commence their foraging activity at ambient temperatures with a average of 6.57 °C and activity is highest at temperatures of about 20 °C and lowest at 43°C. Pollen beetle Meligethes aeneus (Nitidulidae) influenced the foraging behavior of honey bees on oilseed rape flowers: forager bees preferred fully open flowers without beetles on them and foraging activity is also disturbed by the presence of predators.



Muhammad Yahya, Mubasshir Sohail, Sohaib Safar khan, Asad hameed, Imran Bashir, Syed Muhammad Ali Zahid

University college of Agriculture, University of Sargodha


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