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Proc Biol Sci. 2008 Apr 7;275(1636):809-16. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2007.1620.

Genetic diversity within honeybee colonies increases signal production by waggle-dancing foragers.

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  • 1Department of Neurobiology and Behavior, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA. hrm24@cornell.edu

Abstract

Recent work has demonstrated considerable benefits of intracolonial genetic diversity for the productivity of honeybee colonies: single-patriline colonies have depressed foraging rates, smaller food stores and slower weight gain relative to multiple-patriline colonies. We explored whether differences in the use of foraging-related communication behaviour (waggle dances and shaking signals) underlie differences in foraging effort of genetically diverse and genetically uniform colonies. We created three pairs of colonies; each pair had one colony headed by a multiply mated queen (inseminated by 15 drones) and one colony headed by a singly mated queen. For each pair, we monitored the production of foraging-related signals over the course of 3 days. Foragers in genetically diverse colonies had substantially more information available to them about food resources than foragers in uniform colonies. On average, in genetically diverse colonies compared with genetically uniform colonies, 36% more waggle dances were identified daily, dancers performed 62% more waggle runs per dance, foragers reported food discoveries that were farther from the nest and 91% more shaking signals were exchanged among workers each morning prior to foraging. Extreme polyandry by honeybee queens enhances the production of worker-worker communication signals that facilitate the swift discovery and exploitation of food resources.

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