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      Comparing Alternative Methods for Holding Virgin Honey Bee Queens for One Week in Mailing Cages before Mating

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          In beekeeping, queen honey bees are often temporarily kept alive in cages. We determined the survival of newly-emerged virgin honey bee queens every day for seven days in an experiment that simultaneously investigated three factors: queen cage type (wooden three-hole or plastic), attendant workers (present or absent) and food type (sugar candy, honey, or both). Ten queens were tested in each of the 12 combinations. Queens were reared using standard beekeeping methods (Doolittle/grafting) and emerged from their cells into vials held in an incubator at 34C. All 12 combinations gave high survival (90 or 100%) for three days but only one method (wooden cage, with attendants, honey) gave 100% survival to day seven. Factors affecting queen survival were analysed. Across all combinations, attendant bees significantly increased survival (18% vs. 53%, p<0.001). In addition, there was an interaction between food type and cage type (p<0.001) with the honey and plastic cage combination giving reduced survival. An additional group of queens was reared and held for seven days using the best method, and then directly introduced using smoke into queenless nucleus colonies that had been dequeened five days previously. Acceptance was high (80%, 8/10) showing that this combination is also suitable for preparing queens for introduction into colonies. Having a simple method for keeping newly-emerged virgin queens alive in cages for one week and acceptable for introduction into queenless colonies will be useful in honey bee breeding. In particular, it facilitates the screening of many queens for genetic or phenotypic characteristics when only a small proportion meets the desired criteria. These can then be introduced into queenless hives for natural mating or insemination, both of which take place when queens are one week old.

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          Influence of gene action across different time scales on behavior.

          Genes can affect natural behavioral variation in different ways. Allelic variation causes alternative behavioral phenotypes, whereas changes in gene expression can influence the initiation of behavior at different ages. We show that the age-related transition by honey bees from hive work to foraging is associated with an increase in the expression of the foraging (for) gene, which encodes a guanosine 3',5'-monophosphate (cGMP)-dependent protein kinase (PKG). cGMP treatment elevated PKG activity and caused foraging behavior. Previous research showed that allelic differences in PKG expression result in two Drosophila foraging variants. The same gene can thus exert different types of influence on a behavior.
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            Hymenoptera Genome Database: integrated community resources for insect species of the order Hymenoptera

            The Hymenoptera Genome Database (HGD) is a comprehensive model organism database that caters to the needs of scientists working on insect species of the order Hymenoptera. This system implements open-source software and relational databases providing access to curated data contributed by an extensive, active research community. HGD contains data from 9 different species across ∼200 million years in the phylogeny of Hymenoptera, allowing researchers to leverage genetic, genome sequence and gene expression data, as well as the biological knowledge of related model organisms. The availability of resources across an order greatly facilitates comparative genomics and enhances our understanding of the biology of agriculturally important Hymenoptera species through genomics. Curated data at HGD includes predicted and annotated gene sets supported with evidence tracks such as ESTs/cDNAs, small RNA sequences and GC composition domains. Data at HGD can be queried using genome browsers and/or BLAST/PSI-BLAST servers, and it may also be downloaded to perform local searches. We encourage the public to access and contribute data to HGD at:
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              Behavioral genomics of honeybee foraging and nest defense

              The honeybee has been the most important insect species for study of social behavior. The recently released draft genomic sequence for the bee will accelerate honeybee behavioral genetics. Although we lack sufficient tools to manipulate this genome easily, quantitative trait loci (QTLs) that influence natural variation in behavior have been identified and tested for their effects on correlated behavioral traits. We review what is known about the genetics and physiology of two behavioral traits in honeybees, foraging specialization (pollen versus nectar), and defensive behavior, and present evidence that map-based cloning of genes is more feasible in the bee than in other metazoans. We also present bioinformatic analyses of candidate genes within QTL confidence intervals (CIs). The high recombination rate of the bee made it possible to narrow the search to regions containing only 17–61 predicted peptides for each QTL, although CIs covered large genetic distances. Knowledge of correlated behavioral traits, comparative bioinformatics, and expression assays facilitated evaluation of candidate genes. An overrepresentation of genes involved in ovarian development and insulin-like signaling components within pollen foraging QTL regions suggests that an ancestral reproductive gene network was co-opted during the evolution of foraging specialization. The major QTL influencing defensive/aggressive behavior contains orthologs of genes involved in central nervous system activity and neurogenesis. Candidates at the other two defensive-behavior QTLs include modulators of sensory signaling (Am5HT 7 serotonin receptor, AmArr4 arrestin, and GABA-B-R1 receptor). These studies are the first step in linking natural variation in honeybee social behavior to the identification of underlying genes.

                Author and article information

                Role: Editor
                PLoS One
                PLoS ONE
                PLoS ONE
                Public Library of Science (San Francisco, USA )
                16 November 2012
                : 7
                : 11
                Laboratory of Apiculture and Social Insects, School of Life Sciences, University of Sussex, Falmer, Brighton, United Kingdom
                Arizona State University, United States of America
                Author notes

                Competing Interests: GB was partially funded by Rowse Honey Limited. This does not alter the authors' adherence to all the PLOS ONE policies on sharing data and materials.

                Conceived and designed the experiments: GB FR. Performed the experiments: GB. Analyzed the data: GB CG. Contributed reagents/materials/analysis tools: FR. Wrote the paper: GB CG FR.


                Current address: Departamento de Biologia da Faculdade de Filosofia, Ciências e Letras de Ribeirão Preto, Universidade de São Paulo, Ribeirão Preto, Brazil


                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

                Page count
                Pages: 5
                GB was supported by the British Beekeeping Association (BBKA) and Rowse Honey Limited. CG was supported by a postdoctoral fellowship from the Swiss National Science Foundation (grant number PA00P3_129134). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
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