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Title: Honey Bees ( Apis mellifera Hymenoptera: Apidae) Preferentially Avoid Sugar Solutions Supplemented with Field-Relevant Concentrations of Hydrogen Peroxide Despite High Tolerance Limits
Abstract Honey bees (Apis mellifera L. Hymeoptera: Apidae) use hydrogen peroxide (synthesized by excreted glucose oxidase) as an important component of social immunity. However, both tolerance of hydrogen peroxide and the production of glucose oxidase in honey is costly. Hydrogen peroxide may also be encountered by honey bees at high concentrations in nectar while foraging, however despite its presence both in their foraged and stored foods, it is unclear if and how bees monitor concentrations of, and their behavioral responses to, hydrogen peroxide. The costs of glucose oxidase production and the presence of hydrogen peroxide in both nectar and honey suggest hypotheses that honey bees preferentially forage on hydrogen peroxide supplemented feed syrups at certain concentrations, and avoid feed syrups supplemented with hydrogen peroxide at concentrations above some tolerance threshold. We test these hypotheses and find that, counter to expectation, honey bees avoid glucose solutions supplemented with field-relevant hydrogen peroxide concentrations and either avoid or don’t differentiate supplemented sucrose solutions when given choice assays. This is despite honey bees showing high tolerance for hydrogen peroxide in feed solutions, with no elevated mortality until concentrations of hydrogen peroxide exceed 1% (v/v) in solution, with survival apparent even at concentrations up to 10%. The behavioral interaction of honey bees with hydrogen peroxide during both within-colony synthesis in honey and when foraging on nectar therefore likely relies on interactions with other indicator molecules, and maybe constrained evolutionarily in its plasticity, representing a constitutive immune mechanism.  more » « less
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Author(s) / Creator(s):
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Brunet, Johanne
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Journal Name:
Journal of Insect Science
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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