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  1. O'Shea-Wheller, Thomas (Ed.)
    Abstract Honey bees utilize their circadian rhythms to accurately predict the time of day. This ability allows foragers to remember the specific timing of food availability and its location for several days. Previous studies have provided strong evidence toward light/dark cycles being the primary Zeitgeber for honey bees. Work in our laboratory described large individual variation in the endogenous period length of honey bee foragers from the same colony and differences in the endogenous rhythms under different constant temperatures. In this study, we further this work by examining the temperature inside the honey bee colony. By placing temperature and light data loggers at different locations inside the colony we measured temperature at various locations within the colony. We observed significant oscillations of the temperature inside the hive, that show seasonal patterns. We then simulated the observed temperature oscillations in the laboratory and found that using the temperature cycle as a Zeitgeber, foragers present large individual differences in the phase of locomotor rhythms for temperature. Moreover, foragers successfully synchronize their locomotor rhythms to these simulated temperature cycles. Advancing the cycle by six hours, resulting in changes in the phase of activity in some foragers in the assay. The results are shownmore »in this study highlight the importance of temperature as a potential Zeitgeber in the field. Future studies will examine the possible functional and evolutionary role of the observed phase differences of circadian rhythms.« less
  2. Recurrent honey bee losses make it critical to understand the impact of human interventions, such as antibiotics use in apiculture. Antibiotics are used to prevent or treat bacterial infections in colonies. However, little is known about their effects on honey bee development. We studied the effect of two commercial beekeeping antibiotics on the bee physiology and behavior throughout development. Our results show that antibiotic treatments have an effect on amount of lipids and rate of behavioral development. Lipid amount in treated bees was higher than those not treated. Also, the timing of antibiotic treatment had distinct effects for the age of onset of behaviors starting with cleaning, then nursing and lastly foraging. Bees treated during larva-pupa stages demonstrated an accelerated behavioral development and loss of lipids, while bees treated from larva to adulthood had a delay in behavioral development and loss of lipids. The effects were shared across the two antibiotics tested, TerramycinR (oxytetracycline) and TylanR (tylosin tartrate). These results on effects of antibiotic treatments suggest a role of microbiota in the interaction between the fat body and brain that is important for honey bee behavioral development.
  3. For social animals, the genotypes of group members affect the social environment, and thus individual behavior, often indirectly. We used genome-wide association studies (GWAS) to determine the influence of individual vs. group genotypes on aggression in honey bees. Aggression in honey bees arises from the coordinated actions of colony members, primarily nonreproductive “soldier” bees, and thus, experiences evolutionary selection at the colony level. Here, we show that individual behavior is influenced by colony environment, which in turn, is shaped by allele frequency within colonies. Using a population with a range of aggression, we sequenced individual whole genomes and looked for genotype–behavior associations within colonies in a common environment. There were no significant correlations between individual aggression and specific alleles. By contrast, we found strong correlations between colony aggression and the frequencies of specific alleles within colonies, despite a small number of colonies. Associations at the colony level were highly significant and were very similar among both soldiers and foragers, but they covaried with one another. One strongly significant association peak, containing an ortholog of the Drosophila sensory gene dpr4 on linkage group (chromosome) 7, showed strong signals of both selection and admixture during the evolution of gentleness in a honeymore »bee population. We thus found links between colony genetics and group behavior and also, molecular evidence for group-level selection, acting at the colony level. We conclude that group genetics dominates individual genetics in determining the fatal decision of honey bees to sting.« less