Stress-induced loss of social resilience in honeybee colonies and its implications on fitness

Zeynep N. Ulgezen*, Frank van Langevelde, Coby van Dooremalen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Stressors may lead to a shift in the timing of life-history events of species, causing a mismatch with optimal environmental conditions, potentially reducing fitness. In honeybees, the timing of brood rearing and nest emergence in late winter/early spring is critical as colonies need to grow fast after winter to prepare for reproduction. However, the effects of stress on these life-history events in late winter/early spring and the possible consequences are not well understood. Therefore, we tested whether (i) honeybee colonies shift timing of brood rearing and nest emergence as response to stressors, and (ii) if there is a consequent loss of social resilience, reflected in colony fitness (survival, growth and reproduction). We monitored stressed (high load of the parasitic mite Varroa destructor or nutrition restricted) colonies and presumably non-stressed colonies from the beginning of 2020 till spring of 2021. We found that honeybee colonies do not shift the timing of brood rearing and nest emergence in spring as a coping mechanism to stressors. However, we show that there is loss of social resilience in stressed colonies, leading to reduced growth and reproduction. Our study contributes to better understanding the effects of stressors on social resilience in eusocial organisms.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20232460
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Volume291
Issue number2014
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jan 2024

Keywords

  • Apis mellifera
  • colony fitness
  • nest emergence
  • pollen restriction
  • timing of brood rearing
  • Varroa destructor

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