Time at Guelph

Zhiyong Huang, Ph.D. candidate

Guelph time (1983-1988) was perhaps the happies time I had in North America. Prior to that I was going to College in China and preparing for my trip for Canada. Guelph time was relative worry free, even though I was paid $400 Canadian the first two years. I got married a year before I graduated and we had our first child before I defended.

My Ph.D. thesis was on mechanisms of hypopharyngeal gland activation in worker honey bees, supervised by Prof. Gard Otis.

In honey bee workers, the specialized food glands (hypopharyngeal glands) remain inactive when brood (eggs and larvae) is absent, such as during winter time or when the queen is caged. These glands would become activated (a several fold increase in protein-synthesizing rates) when brood is introduced. I devised a simple in vivo method for estimating the rate of protein synthesis of the hypopharyngeal glands, then used this as a tool to probe the following physiological mechanism of "in-hive" ecology: What signals are there, if any, from the brood to activate the food glands so that they can receive adequate food? This is a fundamental question for honey bee colony organization, since all workers develop from an immobile larval stage, and they depend completely on adult bees for their food. To answer the question whether bee larvae actively give off signals to communicate their existence and the need of food to adult bees, I also devised behavioral experiments to study the interactions between larvae and adult workers during inspection and food deposition. I found that a seemingly simple act of regurgitating food to larvae involves a complex interplay of various stimuli and cues.

Publications from Ph.D. work:

1. Huang, Z.-Y. & G.W. Otis. 1989. Factors determining hypopharyngeal gland activity of worker honey bees (Apis mellifera L.). Insectes Sociaux 36: 264-276

2. Huang, Z.-Y., G.W. Otis & P.E.A. Teal. 1989. Nature of brood signal activating the protein synthesis of hypopharyngeal gland in honey bees, Apis mellifera (Apidae: Hymenoptera). Apidologie 20: 455-464

3. Huang, Z.-Y. 1990. A simple in vivo bioassay for estimating the hypopharyngeal gland activity in honeybees (Apis mellifera L, Apidae, Hymenoptera). Journal of Apicultural Research 29: 75-81

4. Huang, Z.-Y. & G.W. Otis. 1991. Non-random visitation of brood cells by worker honey bees (Hymenoptera: Apidae). Journal of Insect Behavior 4: 177-184

5. Huang, Z.-Y. & G.W. Otis. 1991. Inspection and feeding of larvae by worker honey bees (Hymenoptera: Apidae): Effect of starvation and food quantity. Journal of Insect Behavior 4: 305-317

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