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Introductory Apiculture Journal Article Assignment November 1, 2012 Jenn van Tol 1. Breed M.D., S. Perry, and L. B. Bjostad. 2004. Testing the blank slate hypothesis: why honeybee colonies accept young bees. Insectes Sociaux 51 (1): 12-16. 2. (a) This article has been cited 34 times. (b) cited references: 32.

Guard bees have the task of excluding bees that are not part of their colony from entering the hive, as they could be attempting to rob honey or nectar. However, eggs, larvae and pupae or even newly emerged worker bees will not be rejected if introduced to the hive. In fact, a common method of adding a queen to a queen-less colony is by adding her as a larvae within a queen cell. Why are these bees not rejected? In this paper, the researchers proposed and investigated three possible ways young bees avoid detection as outsiders. First, they might produce a pheromone and stimulate acceptance by other bees, for example, hexadecanoic acid or brood pheromone. Second, there could be a chemical marker on the hive bees which would be taken up by the young bees as they emerge. Third, as young bees may not have developed the distinguishing chemical markers of another hive, they will be accepted, and over time produce the same marker as their hive-mates. To test these hypotheses, mature foraging bees were collected from various hives. Some were placed in vials, and shaken with sodium hydroxide (NaOH). As controls, other workers were washed with distilled water, and a third group of workers were not washed. Individual foragers were then paired with a guard bee from a different colony, and their behaviour was observed, whether acceptance or rejection. The unwashed forager bees and those washed with distilled water were generally rejected by the guard bees, whereas the NaOH-washed bees were generally accepted. The NaOH wash was used to neutralize and remove chemicals on the bees surface, specifically free fatty acids. These compounds are picked up by bees from their nest environment (specifically the comb). They were quantified by an earlier part of this experiment, where a NaOH and dichloromethane mixture was used to wash mature and newly-emerged

workers, and various surface markers were isolated and compared. Newly-emerged bees have much lower levels of all surface fatty acids and hydrocarbons, and this probably contributes to the so-called blank slate allowing their acceptance. This is supported by the discovery, in the experiment described prior, that the removal of surface chemicals from older worker bees allows them to be accepted much more easily by guard bees, than if the markers are present. I liked this paper because the researchers take an intuitive and yet very simple approach: isolating the chemicals on the surface, and testing the response of other bees if they are removed. However, the results are not as clear as they could be, and although the third hypothesis is strongly supported, the other two are not completely eliminated they may still contribute to acceptance. I appreciate that the researchers acknowledge this, and by doing so invite others to continue investigating. For example, research could be done to determine if a single chemical is responsible for the aggression between worker bees of different colonies, or if it results from the overall interaction and differentness of these chemicals. I also like how this article is expanded, in conclusion, to compare and contrast with similar processes in the relationships of other social insects, mammals and birds to unrelated young of their species, and even with the interaction of parasite and host. It adds a context to the research done, reaching beyond the world of the honeybee.

The END.