Swarming is an important mechanism by which honey bee, Apis mellifera L., colonies reproduce, yet very little is known about the physiological changes in workers that are preparing to swarm. In this study, we determined the endocrine status of worker honey bees in preswarming colonies and in normal (nonswarming) colonies. Juvenile hormone (JH) titers in worker bees were similar in both groups before queen cells were present, but they became significantly lower in preswarming colonies compared with normal colonies when queen cells occurred in preswarming colonies. The lower JH titers in the preswarming colonies suggest that behavioral development is delayed in these colonies, consistent with previous reports that preswarming colonies have reduced foraging activities. Understanding the endocrine status of bees preparing for swarming will help us to better understand the biology of swarming.
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Vol. 98 • No. 2