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J Insect Physiol. 2003 Apr;49(4):359-66.

Larval juvenile hormone treatment affects pre-adult development, but not adult age at onset of foraging in worker honey bees (Apis mellifera).

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Department of Entomology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL 61801, USA.


Previous research has shown that juvenile hormone (JH) titers increase as adult worker honey bees age and treatments with JH, JH analogs and JH mimics induce precocious foraging. Larvae from genotypes exhibiting faster adult behavioral development had significantly higher levels of juvenile hormone during the 2nd and 3rd larval instar. It is known that highly increased JH during this period causes the totipotent female larvae to differentiate into a queen. We treated third instar larvae with JH to test the hypothesis that this time period may be a developmental critical period for organizational effects of JH on brain and behavior also in the worker caste, such that JH treatment at a lower level than required to produce queens will speed adult behavioral development in workers. Larval JH treatment did not influence adult worker behavioral development. However, it made pre-adult development more queen-like in two ways: treated larvae were capped sooner by adult bees, and emerged from pupation earlier. These results suggest that some aspects of honey bee behavioral development may be relatively insensitive to pre-adult perturbation. These results also suggest JH titer may be connected to cues perceived by the adult bees indicating larval readiness for pupation resulting in adult bee cell capping behavior.

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