The impact of honey bee (Apis mellifera) group size on hygienic behavior performance

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Phoebe R. Snyder (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Olav Ruppell

Abstract: Hygienic behavior is a mechanism of social immunity in which adult honey bees detect and remove unhealthy brood. Hygienic behavior can be exhibited by all workers, but some individuals are specialized in the trait and can perform it at exceptional levels. Studies have shown that task specialization scales with increasing group size. The current study investigates the performance of hygienic behavior by large and small groups of workers across three scales and whether task specialization promotes hygienic performance. Workers in groups of different sizes across small, intermediate, and large scales were subjected to standard hygienic assays and hygienic behavior was measured at various time intervals. Direct behavioral observations were made in the small and intermediate scale experiments to compare task specialization between groups. The number of cells uncapped was significantly greater by the large group at the large scale and disproportionately greater by the large group at the small scale. The result of the small scale experiment may have been more affected by worker density than by task specialization. Neither the number of uncapped cells nor the task specialization measured at the intermediate scale were statistically significant, which may be due to small sample size or deficiencies in experimental design. Overall, these results suggest an influence of group size on hygienic performance but the scaling of this effect and the role of task specialization could not be fully resolved. Worker density may be an important aspect of group size that needs to be addressed when assessing hygienic behavior performance. Keywords: Honey bees, group size, task specialization, hygienic behavior, division of labor, social immunity, Varroa destructor

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2020
Honey bees, Group size, Task specialization, Hygienic behavior, Division of labor, Social immunity, Varroa destructor
Honeybee $x Behavior
Honeybee $x Health
Varroa destructor

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