The behavioral maturation of adult worker honey bees is influenced by a rising titer of juvenile hormone (JH), and is temporally correlated with an increase in the volume of the neuropil of the mushroom bodies, a brain region involved in learning and memory. We explored the stability of this neuropil expansion and its possible dependence on JH. We studied the volume of the mushroom bodies in adult bees deprived of JH by surgical removal of the source glands, the corpora allata. We also asked if the neuropil expansion detected in foragers persists when bees no longer engage in foraging, either because of the onset of winter or because colony social structure was experimentally manipulated to cause some bees to revert from foraging to tending brood (nursing). Results show that adult exposure to JH is not necessary for growth of the mushroom body neuropil, and that the volume of the mushroom body neuropil in adult bees is not reduced if foraging stops. These results are interpreted in the context of a qualitative model that posits that mushroom body neuropil volume enlargement in the honey bee has both experience-independent and experience-dependent components.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)141-151
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Neurobiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Nov 2003


  • Apis mellifera
  • Corpora pedunculata
  • Juvenile hormone
  • Kenyon cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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