Behaviour 2019
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Hormonal and moleular mechanisms underlying behavioural maturation in open- and cavity-nesting honey bees
Sruthi Unnikrishnan, Aridni Shah, Deepika Bais, Ashwin Suryanarayanan, Axel Brockmann. National Centre for Biological Sciences, TIFR, Bangalore, Karnataka, India

Behavioural development is a process common to all animal taxa and social insects have successfully adopted this as the basis for their division of labour (e.g., age polyethism). Age polyethism where individuals perform specific tasks as they age has been studied from the level of hormones to brain gene expression in the honey bee Apis mellifera. Given this detailed knowledge we explore the mechanism of behavioural maturation across other Apis species that differ in size, habitat and nesting ecology. Based on the nesting biology honey bees are classified as open-nesting (ancestral) and cavity-nesting (derived). The difference in nesting biology is expected to cause a delay in the onset of foraging in open-nesting bees. Studies on two tropical species, A. florea (open-nesting) and A. cerana (cavity-nesting) indicate that workers of A. florea exhibit a slower pace of behavioural maturation and on average, later onset of foraging. However, basic hormonal and molecular changes associated with onset of foraging are similar. We propose that evolution of accelerated behavioural maturation in cavity-nesting is likely attributed to changes in the temporal dynamics of juvenile hormone.