What’s the Buzz

Science's STKE  24 Jul 2007:
Vol. 2007, Issue 396, pp. tw267
DOI: 10.1126/stke.3962007tw267

The residents of bee hives are well known to be closely related, but hives can often exhibit more genetic diversity than might be anticipated from theories on the benefits of cooperation among closely related individuals. Mattila and Seeley show that one reason for this is that more genetically diverse hives (those originating from a female mating with multiple males) perform better in the rate of comb building, foraging rates, and honey production than those originating from a single female and male. To advertise her presence in the colony and to exert influence over its members, a honey bee queen produces a complex blend of substances known as queen mandibular pheromone. Vergoz et al. (see the Perspective by Galizia) found that exposure to queen pheromone leads to a reduction in aversive learning but not to a reduction in appetitive learning in young honey bees. The queen substance modulates the dopaminergic system of bees, which reduces the capacity of young workers to form aversive memories.

H. R. Mattila, T. D. Seeley, Genetic diversity in honey bee colonies enhances productivity and fitness. Science 317, 362-364 (2007). [Abstract] [Full Text]

V. Vergoz, H. A. Schreurs, A. R. Mercer, Queen pheromone blocks aversive learning in young worker bees. Science 317, 384-386 (2007). [Abstract] [Full Text]

C. G. Galizia, Brainwashing, honeybee style. Science 317, 326-327 (2007) [Summary] [Full Text]