Three experiments were performed to determine the role of juvenile hormone (JH) in worker reproduction in queenless colonies of honey bees. In Experiment 1, egg-laying workers had low hemolymph titers of JH, as did bees engaged in brood care, while foragers had significantly higher titers. Experiment 2 confirmed these findings by demonstrating that laying workers have significantly lower rates of JH biosynthesis than foragers do. In Experiment 3, ovary development was inhibited slightly by application of the JH analog methoprene to 1-day-old bees, but was not affected by application to older bees, at least some already displaying egg-laying behavior. These results, which are consistent with earlier findings for queen honey bees, are contrary to a common model of insect reproduction, in which elevated JH titers trigger ovary development, which then leads to oviposition. Previous experiments have demonstrated that JH regulates nonreproductive behavior in workers that is associated with colony division of labor; perhaps this function is incompatible with a traditional role for JH in reproduction.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Animal Science and Zoology