Journal of
Ecology and The Natural Environment

  • Abbreviation: J. Ecol. Nat. Environ.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2006-9847
  • DOI: 10.5897/JENE
  • Start Year: 2009
  • Published Articles: 345

Full Length Research Paper

Patterns of short- and long-term responses of honey bee (Apis mellifera L.) colony to changes in its internal environment

Ram Chander Sihag
  • Ram Chander Sihag
  • Laboratory of Animal Behaviour and Simulated Ecology, Department of Zoology, College of Basic Sciences and Humanities, CCS Haryana Agricultural University, Hisar-125004, India.
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Gurminder Kaur
  • Gurminder Kaur
  • Laboratory of Animal Behaviour and Simulated Ecology, Department of Zoology, College of Basic Sciences and Humanities, CCS Haryana Agricultural University, Hisar-125004, India.
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  •  Received: 29 November 2017
  •  Accepted: 12 July 2018
  •  Published: 31 August 2018

Abstract

Management of the honey bee (Apis mellifera L.) colony for honey production and pollination of crops includes the manipulation of its internal environment. It is not yet understood how the colony might respond to such manipulations in the short- (within four or five days post-treatment) and long-term (after 21 days post-treatment) and whether the once generated short-term response persists into the long-term. Five internal parameters (unsealed and sealed brood, pollen and honey area and colony strength) of the honey bee colony were manipulated and the patterns of resulting short- and long-term colony responses were studied. In the short-term, the honey bee colony showed a significant increase in pollen foraging and a decrease in nectar foraging following an increase in unsealed brood and honey stores; a significant decrease in pollen foraging and an increase in nectar foraging following an increase in pollen stores; and a significant increase in nectar foraging and no change in pollen foraging following an increase in colony strength. However, an increase in sealed brood did not cause any change in the colony foraging patterns. Majority of the short-term responses did not persist for long and wore off with the passage of time. Therefore, the patterns of the long-term responses were different from the short-term responses. In the long-term, only some responses were ‘expected and similar to the short-term responses'; some were ‘unexpected and different from short-term responses'; many were ‘new (previously not reported) and expected'; and some others were ‘new and unexpected'. The study reveals that knowledge of short-term responses would be helpful in devising management strategies to urgently stimulate a colony for nectar or pollen foraging. However, the results show that the short-term responses may or may not persist for long and the colony may need a fresh stimulus to sustain the desired response into long-term.

 

Key words:  Apis mellifera, brood, colony, foraging, honey, honey bee, nectar, pollen, pollination.