Queen mandibular pheromone modulates hemolymph ecdysteroid titers in adult Apis mellifera workers
To test the hypothesis that exposure to queen mandibular pheromone (QMP) modulates ecdysteroid production in adult worker honey bees, ecdysteroids were measured in hemolymph and other tissues of individual adult worker honey bees reared with or without QMP in cages and field colonies. Ecdysteroid titers were higher in caged workers exposed to QMP continuously from the first day of adult life than in workers reared without QMP. Statistical cluster analysis suggested the possibility that a subgroup of workers (“responders”) is more sensitive to QMP in this regard than other workers. In 12-day-old workers, ecdysteroid titers in workers reared in queenright (QR) colonies were similar to those observed in cages with QMP, but lower than those in queenless (QL) colonies. Differences in number of ovarioles or degree of ovarian activation did not correlate with hemolymph ecdysteroids. Previous studies have demonstrated ecdysteroids in hemolymph in very young adult workers and in workers in QL colonies; the present study indicates that production of ecdysteroids occurs in older adult worker honey bees in the absence of morphological signs of ovarian activation, with cage studies revealing a modulatory role for QMP masked in the complex environment of the hive.
Publisher URL: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13592-018-0562-6