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How a honey bee colony mustered additional labor for the task of pollen foraging

Publication Date
DOI: 10.1051/apido:2002026
  • [Sdv:Ba:Zi] Life Sciences/Animal Biology/Invertebrate Zoology
  • [Sdv:Ba:Zi] Sciences Du Vivant/Biologie Animale/Zoologie Des Invertébrés
  • [Sdv:Bid] Life Sciences/Biodiversity
  • [Sdv:Bid] Sciences Du Vivant/Biodiversité
  • [Sdv:Ee] Life Sciences/Ecology
  • Environment
  • [Sdv:Ee] Sciences Du Vivant/Ecologie
  • Environnement
  • [Sdv:Sa:Spa] Life Sciences/Agricultural Sciences/Animal Production Studies
  • [Sdv:Sa:Spa] Sciences Du Vivant/Sciences Agricoles/Science Des Productions Animales
  • Foraging
  • Pollen Collection
  • Recruitment
  • Task Switching
  • Work Tempo


This study examined how a honey bee colony supplied additional labor for a foraging task, pollen collection, when the demand for this task was increased. When we experimentally raised a colony's pollen need from one day to the next, we found that the colony boosted the labor devoted to pollen collecting (measured in terms of the number of pollen collection trips per day, P) by a factor of 24.8. The number of pollen foragers (N) was increased (by recruiting and task switching) by a factor of 12.4, while the number of collecting trips per pollen forager per day (T) was increased by a factor of 2.0 (note that P = N $\times$ T). The increase in number of pollen foragers was produced mostly (73%) by the recruiting of non-foragers to the task and to a smaller extent (27%) by the switching of non-pollen foragers to the task.

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