Insulin Modifies Honeybee Worker Behavior

Insects. 2012 Oct 24;3(4):1084-92. doi: 10.3390/insects3041084.


The insulin signaling pathway has been hypothesized to play a key role in regulation of worker social insect behavior. We tested whether insulin treatment has direct effects on worker honeybee behavior in two contexts, sucrose response thresholds in winter bees and the progression to foraging by summer nurse bees. Treatment of winter worker bees with bovine insulin, used as a proxy for honeybee insulin, increased the bees' sucrose response threshold. Treatment of summer nurse bees with bovine insulin significantly decreased the age at which foraging was initiated. This work provides further insight into the role of endocrine controls in behavior of in honeybees and insects in general.

Keywords: Apis mellifera; division of labor; foraging; honeybee; insulin; sucrose response threshold.