Parasitic and immune modulation of flight activity in honey bees tracked with optical counters
Journal of Experimental Biology
Host-parasite interactions are often characterized by changes in the host behaviour, which are beneficial to either the parasite or the host, or are a non-adaptive byproduct of parasitism. These interactions are further complicated in animal society because individual fitness is associated with group performance. However, a better understanding of host-parasite interaction in animal society first requires the identification of individual host behavioural modification. Therefore, we challenged
... ney bee (Apis mellifera) workers with the parasite Nosema ceranae or an immune stimulation and tracked their flight activity over their lifetime with an optic counter. We found that bees responded differently to each stress: both Nosema-infected and immune-challenged bees performed a lower number of daily flights compared with control bees, but the duration of their flights increased and decreased over time, respectively. Overall, parasitized bees spent more time in the field each day than control bees, and the inverse was true for immune-challenged bees. Despite the stress of immune challenge, bees had a survival similar to that of control bees likely because of their restricted activity. We discuss how those different behavioural modifications could be adaptive phenotypes. This study provides new insights into how biological stress can affect the behaviour of individuals living in society and how host responses have evolved.