Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2015

Document Type

Thesis

Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors

Department

Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

First Advisor

Dr. Michael Breed

Second Advisor

Dr. Barbara Demmig-Adams

Third Advisor

Dr. Suzanne Nelson

Abstract

The pheromone ethyl oleate was recently discovered in honeybees and has offered researchers the opportunity to further understand how division of labor is managed in honeybee (Apis mellifera) societies. Biologists recognize two types of pheromones: Releaser pheromones, which elicit immediate responses from receiving animals, and primer pheromones, which cause long-term changes in behavior without immediate behavioral change. The pheromone ethyl oleate used in this study acts as a primer pheromone in honeybees. The behavior of guard bees was examined after direct exposure to ethyl oleate, by recording the number of treated bees present in the hive. The number of bees present inside and outside the hive was recorded once daily for three days after exposure of guard bees to ethyl oleate. A control group was also maintained to compare the result to the treatment group. This research was conducted in the summer when bees are most active. No significant difference was seen in the number of control and treatment bees present, indicating no behavioral change after exposure to ethyl oleate. However, a significant decline in the number of bees occurred over time, with the lowest number of bees recorded on the third day. More control bees were found inside and outside the hive during early summer, while more treatment bees were observed in late summer. In the future, tagging more bees, conducting the entire study early in the summer and spending more time observing and tracking bees in the hive would improve such studies. Improved delivery methods of ethyl oleate to the bees and a means to measure the concentrations of ethyl oleate in bees would also be helpful.

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