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Octopamine and tyramine modulate the thermoregulatory fanning response in honey bees (Apis mellifera L.)

Cook, Chelsea N., Brent, Colin S., Breed, Michael D.
Journal of Experimental Biology 2017 v.220 no.10 pp. 1925-1930
Apis mellifera, group behavior, locomotion, nests, octopamine, social environment, thermoregulation, tyramine, wing fanning, worker honey bees
Biogenic amines regulate the proximate mechanisms underlying most behavior, including those that contribute to the overall success of complex societies. For honey bees one critical set of behaviors contributing to the welfare of a colony are involved with nest thermoregulation. Worker honey bees cool the colony by performing a fanning behavior, the expression of which is largely influenced by response thresholds that are influenced by the social environment. Here, we examined how changes in biogenic amines affect this group-performed thermoregulatory fanning behavior in honeybees. Concentrations of two biogenic amines, octopamine and tyramine, are significantly lower in active fanners than in non-fanners. Direct feeding of these biogenic amines induced a decrease in fanning responses, but only when both amines were included in the treatment. This is the first evidence that fanning behavior is influenced by these two biogenic amines, and this result is consistent with their role in regulating locomotor activity in other insects. Individual variation in amine expression also provides a mechanistic link that helps to explain how this group behavior might be coordinated within a colony.