Bee Behavior and Biology, Managing The Colony Labor Pool, Topics


The Economy of the Hive – Part 1

First published in: American Bee Journal January 2010

Inside the hive there functions a vibrant community, with an economy similar to that of any other society. The bee economy is based upon the harvesting and processing of resources, the trade of products, doting care for the youngsters and parents, wise savings, deficit spending, a hierarchy of jobs, national defense, and an exquisite communication […]

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The Economy of the Hive – Part 2

First published in: American Bee Journal February 2010

Last month I described the functions of the main players in the hive economy—the queen, the nurse bees, the foragers, and the “resting” bees. Now let’s look at the main driver for the bee economy—the supply of food. The honey bee economy is based upon the gathering and consumption of four resources (nectar, pollen, propolis, […]

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An Adaptable Workforce

First published in: American Bee Journal March 2010

I’d like to return to the analogy of the honey bee colony as being similar to a medium-sized mammal.  The combs are analogous to the skeleton, the queen to the ovary, drones to sperms, honey to body fat, and the workers to the individual cells that make up organs. The honey bee superorganism (minus the […]

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The Primer Pheromones and Managing the Labor Pool – Part 1

First published in: American Bee Journal April 2010

We humans tend to anthropomorphize animal behavior, which is often just plain silly. The most caring, gentle, nurturing beekeeper can pamper a hive to no end, yet will still have her friendship rewarded with a volley of stings to the face should she move a bit too quickly.

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The Primer Pheromones and Managing the Labor Pool – Part 2

First published in: American Bee Journal May 2010

In the first part of this article, I explained how the allotment of the hive labor pool was largely controlled through communication via the process of sharing protein-rich jelly via trophallaxis, plus non-feeding interchange of low volatility “primer” pheromones. I now continue with a summary of our current state of knowledge of the complex process […]

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The Primer Pheromones and Managing the Labor Pool – Part 3

First published in: American Bee Journal June 2010

I left you last month in the middle of explaining the current model for colony workforce allocation, and the influence of various primer pheromones. Please allow me to pick up where I left off. (Having trouble hitting the keys with my cold fingers—I’ve just pulled off my wet coveralls, and am trying to revitalize myself […]

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The Primer Pheromones, Part 4 – Reproduction and Survival

First published in: American Bee Journal July 2010

Queen Pheromone(s) We humans hear the term “queen” and immediately project all the royal attributes of leadership and omnipotence upon the mother of the colony. But is this really the case? Does the queen bee really “rule” the colony, with the sterile workers acting as subordinate subjects? The feeling that I get is that bee […]

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