Division of labor is a hallmark for social insects and is closely related to honey bee morphology and physiology. Vitellogenin (Vg), a precursor protein in insect egg yolk, has several known functions apart from serving as a nutrient source for developing eggs. Vg is a component in the royal jelly produced in the hypopharyngeal glands (HPG) of worker bees which is used to feed both the developing brood and the queen. The HPG is closely associated with divisions of labor as the peak in its development corresponds with the nursing behavior. Independent of the connection between Vg and the HPG, Vg has been seen to play a fundamental role in divisions of labor by affecting worker gustatory responses, age of onset of foraging, and foraging preferences. Similar to Vg, the number of ovarioles in worker ovaries is also associated with division of labor as bees with more ovarioles tend to finish tasks in the hive and become foragers faster. This experiment aims to connect HPGs, ovaries, and Vg by proposing a link between them in the form of ecdysone (20E). 20E is a hormone produced by the ovaries and is linked to ovary development and Vg by tyramine titers. By treating young emerged bees with ecdysone and measuring HPG and ovary development over a trial period, this experiment seeks to determine whether 20E affects division of labor through Vg. We found that though the stress of injection caused a significant decrease in development of both the ovaries and HPG, there was no discernable effect of 20E on either of these organs.
- Ecdysone Effect on Hypopharyngeal Glands and Ovarioles in Adult Worker Bees (Apis mellifera)