The control of the proventriculus in the honeybee (Apis mellifera carnica L.) I. A dynamic process influenced by food quality and quantity?

J Insect Physiol. 2002 Jun;48(6):643-654. doi: 10.1016/s0022-1910(02)00090-2.


The control of crop emptying in foraging honeybees was investigated in individuals trained to collect defined amounts of sugar solutions. Following feeding, they were dissected after fixed periods of time in order to measure crop content and haemolymph sugar titers. Between feeding and dissection, the metabolic rate of every investigated forager was measured using open-flow respirometry, so as to assess the effects of both food quality (concentration, molarity and viscosity of the fed sugar solution) and food quantity on the transport rate through the proventriculus. The sugar transport rate through the proventriculus was observed to be mainly dependent on the metabolic expenditure of the individual. Bee foragers were able to precisely adjust the sugar transport rate to their metabolic rates, but under certain conditions, an excess of sugars was transported through the proventriculus, more than needed to cover the bee's energetic demands. This excess depended on the nutritive value and quantity of the fed sugar solution, and on the time after feeding. It did not depend on the metabolic rate of the bee, the molarity, or the viscosity of the fed sugar solution. As long as the bees did not exhaust their crop contents, the haemolymph sugar titers were unaffected by this excess amount transported, by the time after feeding, the concentration and the viscosity of the fed sugar solution. For all feeding conditions assayed, the haemolymph trehalose titer remained constant, while the titers of other haemolymph sugars varied. It is suggested that the trehalose concentration in the haemolymph is regulated in honeybees, and that it represents the controlled variable in the feedback loop responsible for the transport rate through the proventriculus.