The application of a naturally occurring pheromone to honey bee test colonies increases colony growth resulting in stronger hives overall.
The study, which appeared this week in the journal, PLoS ONE, comes amid national concern over the existence of honey bee Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) - a combination of events that result in the death of a bee colony. The causes behind CCD remain unknown, but scientists are focusing on four possible contributing factors: disease, pests, environmental conditions and nutrition.
As per Ramesh Sagili, coauthor on the study, "Division of labor linked to brood rearing in the honey bee: how does it translate to colony fitness?" resiliency to CCD appears to be increased through -better hive management and the use of optimal dose of brood pheromone -- a chemical released by honey bee larvae that communicates the presence of larvae in the colony to adult bees. Optimal dose of brood pheromone that can stimulate colony growth may vary depending on the colony size, time of application and several other factors.
The number of larvae present in the hive affects the ratio of adult foraging bees to non-foragers in favor of foragers, said Sagili. In our study, when low levels of brood pheromone were introduced to experimental hives foragers collected more pollen.........