Formation of nest odour preference in honeybees (Apis mellifera) (#622)
The eusocial honeybee lives with several thousand nestmates and uses olfaction as their principle mode of nestmate recognition. Nestmate odour is influenced by genetic and environmental factors, and the wax comb constructed by a colony has been recognised as the major source of nestmate recognition cues utilised by bees. Combining previous findings, I will design a simple apparatus based on mammalian conditioned place preference designs and test individual as well as groups of bees for a preference of home wax comb compared to other comb types. Worker bees specialize on different roles in the colony, including nurse bees who tend for the brood in the hive and foragers who collect nectar and pollen outside the hive during the day. Each behavioural caste will be tested and compared to determine if preference for nest odours differs within a colony. Bees will be sampled and tested at various time points during the day to determine if circadian factors also influence behavioural caste preferences. Subsequently, bees will be treated intracerebrally with neurochemicals predicted to alter odour preference responses. Exploring the mechanisms underlying the establishment of a nest odour preference in a eusocial insect will provide new insight into the evolution of sociality.