TitleEnvironment-dependent benefits of interindividual variation in honey bee recruitment
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2022
AuthorsRajagopal S, Brockmann A, George EAntony
Date Published10/2022

Interindividual differences in behaviour within the members of a social group can affect the group's productivity. In eusocial insects, individual differences between workers in a colony play a central role in division of labour and task allocation. Extensive empirical and theoretical work has highlighted variation in response thresholds as a proximate mechanism underlying individual behavioural differences and hence division of labour. However, other response parameters, like response probability and intensity, can also affect these differences. In this study, we first extended a previously published agent-based model on honey bee, Apis mellifera, foraging to understand the relative importance of response (dance) probability and response (dance) intensity in the task of recruitment. Comparing variation obtained from the simulations with previously published empirical data, we found that response intensity played a more important role than probability in producing consistent interindividual differences in recruitment behaviour. We then explored the benefits provided by this individual variation in recruitment behaviour to the colony's collective foraging effort under different environmental conditions. We found that individual variation led to a greater energy yield per forager, but only when food was abundant. Our study highlights the need to consider all response parameters while studying division of labour and adds to the growing body of evidence linking individual variation in behavioural responses to the success of social groups. (C) 2022 The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.