Foraging behavior of honeybees and hormones
Dr. Janko Bozic
University of Ljubljana, Biotechnical
faculty, Department of Biology
and planning foraging of honeybee colonies is a priority of any beekeeper in the
world. In early eighties I started investigating basic concepts of foraging
behavior of honeybees. Dance communication is mayor biological mechanism that
promotes foraging success of a honeybee colony. Two honeybees are always
involved in the dance communication, the dancer bee and bee that collect the
dance message. The dancer bee emits the direction and distance message whereas
the bees around the dancer receive the information. In the eighties the most
popular hypothesis of the message transfer proposed that the message is
transmitted via sound vibrations that are detected by bees in the near acoustic
field around the dancer (Kirchner, Michelsen). A novel definition of behavior of
bees surrounding the dancer was needed. The followers bees move along with the
waggling dancer always touching its thorax and abdomen with both antennae.The
attender bees stand around the dance field, do not follow and do not touch the
dancer. The initially inactive bee starts attending the dancer, gets excited and
potentially starts following the dancer. Not all the attenders will follow the
dancer, however only the follower bees can find a distant food source
successfully. Before flying in the direction of the foraging site the follower
bees leave the hive and orient around the hive several times in succession. The
honeybee foraging behavior is always accompanied by large changes in hemolymh
sugar concentrations, concentrations of glucose, fructose and trehalose in
hemolymph are activity dependent. The concentration of trehalose is high during
departure from the hive and it decreases during the hive return. The
concentrations of glucose and fructose are high in the follower bees and in the
foraging bees. Biogenic amines and juvenile hormone also control some aspects of
the foraging behavior.
of biogenic amines change during the waggle dance activity. The follower bees
have higher activity of dopamine than the inactive bees. Increased octopamine
concentrations are linked to feeding arousal of honeybees. Serotonin
concentrations increase during the decline of foraging activity. The queen
pheromone is transferred passively from the queen to its attending bees, and
further from the queen attending bees to other bees in the hive.
Ripe fruits frequently contain ethanol and facilitate natural ethanol exposure
of honeybees. With the group of C. Abramson from Oklahoma State University of we
started investigating ethanol effects in honeybee behavior. Honeybees are thus
becoming a model for drug abuse and toxicity studies in insects.
1. BOŽIČ, Janko, VALENTINČIČ, Tine. Attendants and followers of honey bee
waggle dances. J. Apic. Res., 1991, (30): 3/4, pp. 125-131.
2. BOŽIČ, Janko, VALENTINČIČ, Tine. Quantitative analysis of social grooming
behavior of the honey bee Apis mellifera carnica. Apidologie, 1995, (26) pp.
3. BOŽIČ, Janko, WOODRING, Joseph. Effect of activity on the haemolymph sugar
titres in honey bees. J. Apic. Res., 1997, (36):1, pp. 33-39.
4. BOŽIČ, Janko, WOODRING, Joseph. Variations of brain biogenic amines in mature
honeybees and induction of recruitment behavior. Comp. biochem. physiol., Part A
Physiol., 1998, (120) pp. 737-744.
5. BOŽIČ, Janko, WOODRING, Joseph. Variation in JH synthesis rate in mature
honeybees and its possible role in reprogramming of hypopharingeal gland
function. Pflügers Arch, 2000, (439):3, suppl., pp. R163-R164.
6. KRALJ, Jasna, BOŽIČ, Janko. Activity of attendants after licking and
palpating the queen in honeybee (Apis mellifera carnica). Neth. j. zool., 2001,
(51):4, pp. 415-419.
7. BOŽIČ, Janko, ABRAMSON, Charles I. Following and attending - two distinct
behavior patterns of honeybees in a position to collect the dance information.
Mellifera, 2003, (3):6, pp. 48-55.
8. ABRAMSON, Charles I., KANDOLF, Andreja, SHERIDAN, Audrey, DONOHUE, Darius,
BOŽIČ, Janko, MEYERS, Julia E, BENBASSAT, Danny. Development of an ethanol model
using social insects : III. preferences for ethanol solutions. Psychol. rep.,
2004, (94) pp. 227-239.
9. BOŽIČ, Janko, ABRAMSON, Charles I., BEDENČIČ,
Mateja. Reduced ability of ethanol drinkers for social communication in
honeybees (Apis mellifera carnica Poll.). Alcohol (Fayetteville, N.Y.),
(Alcohol). [Print ed.], 2006, vol. 38, spp. 179-183.
10. BOŽIČ, Janko, DICESARE, John, WELLS, Harrington, ABRAMSON, Charles I.
Ethanol levels in honeybee hemolymph resulting from alcohol ingestion.
Alcohol (Fayetteville, N.Y.), (Alcohol). [Print ed.], 2007, vol. 40, in
11. ABRAMSON, Charles I., WELLS, Harrington, BOŽIČ, Janko. A social insect model
for the study of ethanol induced behavior: the honey bee. V: YOSHIDA, Rin (ur.).
Trends in alcohol abuse and alcoholism research. Hauppauge, New York: Nova
Science Publishers, 2007, pp. 197-218.
I’m also interested in different aspects of beekeeping technology. Beekeepers
in Slovenia use their own hive type - Alberti-Znidersic or simply AZ hive.
This standard enable us to keep hives in beehouse or even beehouse on the
wheels (no upload and download when moving hives). Disadvantage of this
technology is more expensive hive and more hive tools then standard LR
hives, what makes beekeeping less profitable. I’m looking for technological
solutions which would be more profitable and still friendly for the beekeepers.
I’m a teaching assistant for Ethology Lab. Over the years,
before I started this job, several different practical exercises were developed
using fishes, mousses, rats and also some other animals. I’m trying to add few
exercises with honeybees. Since 2000 I teach also Insect Biology course.
Since 2002 I teach graduate course Comparative endocrinology and since 2004 I
teach Beekeeping course at undergraduate and graduate level.
More information on:
Beekeeping in Slovenia
International Bee Research
Janko Bozic was born on December 21, 1963, to Anton and Cecilija Bozic
in Cretez near Krsko, Slovenia. He attended primary school in Krsko, completing
high school in Brezice in 1982. In October of 1983 he entered Biology program
at the University of Ljubljana where he achieved the Bachelor of Science
degree in February 1988. For a year an a half he took a position in quality
control division of paper mill factory in Krsko, Slovenia. In the October
1989 he got teaching assistant position at the University of Ljubljana
and entered graduate study. He received Master degree from the Department
of Biology, University Ljubljana, in September 1992. In January 1993 he
entered the doctoral degree program in the Department
of Zoology and Physiology at Louisiana
State University. Dissertation was successfully defended on April 12,
1996. Currently Dr. Bozic is working as teaching assistant of Ethology at
the Department of Biology, Biotechnical faculty at the University of Ljubljana.
Mr. Bozic is married, has two sons and a daughter . They live in Ljubljana.
Published internet papers
Queen mating behavior as an example of basic science
observation in beekeeping technology development
Currently I'm involved in research in
collaboration with Prof. C. Abramson (USA) studying effects of ethanol on
honeybee behavior. I had also applicative project with company
Endovital Anton Fabjan s.p. on
effects of feeding beet root syrup to honeybees.
I’m also interested in:
regulation of foraging behavior expression with the emphasis on waggle
significance of dance signals and dance signal transmission
social grooming behavior
varroa resistance mechanisms
behavior patterns which are involved in comb building
swarming behavior, swarm formation, behavior process which enable new nest
location, physiological changes during swarming
behavior and physiology of different ecotypes of carniolan bees
honeydew production and honeydew processing by bees
beekeeping automation and hive technology development
Please, contact me if you are interested in cooperation.
Department of Biology
Vecna pot 111, p.p. 2995
1001 Ljubljana, SLOVENIA