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PLOS ONE  2013 

Comparative Sucrose Responsiveness in Apis mellifera and A. cerana Foragers

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0079026

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In the European honey bee, Apis mellifera, pollen foragers have a higher sucrose responsiveness than nectar foragers when tested using a proboscis extension response (PER) assay. In addition, Africanized honey bees have a higher sucrose responsiveness than European honey bees. Based on the biology of the Eastern honey bee, A. cerana, we hypothesized that A. cerana should also have a higher responsiveness to sucrose than A. mellifera. To test this hypothesis, we compared the sucrose thresholds of pollen foragers and nectar foragers in both A. cerana and A. mellifera in Fujian Province, China. Pollen foragers were more responsive to sucrose than nectar foragers in both species, consistent with previous studies. However, contrary to our hypothesis, A. mellifera was more responsive than A. cerana. We also demonstrated that this higher sucrose responsiveness in A. mellifera was not due to differences in the colony environment by co-fostering two species of bees in the same mixed-species colonies. Because A. mellifera foragers were more responsive to sucrose, we predicted that their nectar foragers should bring in less concentrated nectar compared to that of A. cerana. However, we found no differences between the two species. We conclude that A. cerana shows a different pattern in sucrose responsiveness from that of Africanized bees. There may be other mechanisms that enable A. cerana to perform well in areas with sparse nectar resources.


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