Hypopharyngeal Gland Activity in Task-Specific Workers Under Brood and Broodless Conditions in Apis Cerana Indica (Fab.)

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The hypopharyngeal gland (HPG) is the principal organ of protein synthesis in honey bees. It is involved in larval rearing. We examined the fresh head weight, HPG acini diameter, and HPG protein content in worker bees engaged in different tasks and under brood and broodless conditions. Scanning electron microscopy revealed that the HPG acini diameter of worker bees was related to their task. The highest HPG volume was found in nurse bees, and the volume regressed when the task changed from guarding to foraging. The fresh head weight was positively correlated with HPG acini diameter. Although, there was no positive correlation between HPG acini diameter and protein concentration, the glandular protein concentration increased progressively in nurse bees and declined in guard and forager bees. Histochemistry revealed similar results. Despite displaying significantly larger glands, guard bee protein secretion was similar to that of the foragers. Brooding had a significant effect on HPG activity. Only worker bees from the colony with an intact brood showed elevated rates of protein synthesis; thus, it is possible that a signal was emitted by the brood, which stimulated protein synthesis in the HPG. However, the size of the HPG was similar in both brood and broodless conditions.

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