We measured the age at onset of foraging in colonies derived from three races of European honey bees, Apis mellifera mellifera, Apis mellifera caucasica and Apis mellifera ligustica, using a cross-fostering design that involved six unrelated colonies of each race. There was a significant effect of the race of the introduced bees on the age at onset of foraging: cohorts of A. m. ligustica bees showed the earliest onset, regardless of the race of the colony they were introduced to. There also was a significant effect of the race of the host colony: cohorts of bees introduced into mellifera colonies showed the earliest onset of foraging, regardless of the race of the bees introduced. Significant inter-trial differences also were detected, primarily because of a later onset of foraging in trials conducted during the autumn (September-October). These results demonstrate differences among European races of honey bees in one important component of colony division of labor. They also provide a starting point for analyses of the evolution of division of libor under different ecological conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)115-126
Number of pages12
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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