Studies on the role of juvenile hormone (JH) in adult social Hymenoptera have focused on the regulation of two fundamental aspects of colony organization: reproductive division of labor between queens and workers and age-related division of labor among workers. JH acts as a gonadotropin in the primitively eusocial wasp and bumble bee species studied, and may also play this role in the advanced eusocial fire ants. However, there is no evidence that JH acts as a traditional gonadotropin in the advanced eusocial honey bee or in the few other ant species that have recently begun to be studied. The role of JH in age-related division of labor has been most thoroughly examined in honey bees. Results of these studies demonstrate that JH acts as a "behavioral pacemaker," influencing how fast a worker grows up and makes the transition from nest activities to foraging. Hypotheses concerning the evolutionary relationship between the two functions of JH in adult eusocial Hymenoptera are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)559-583
Number of pages25
JournalArchives of Insect Biochemistry and Physiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 1997


  • Division of labor
  • Social insects

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Biochemistry
  • Insect Science

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