A Fundamental Issue in Physiology and Behavior is Understanding the Functional and Genetic Mechanisms that Underlie Major Behavioral Shifts in Organisms as They Adopt New Environments or Life History Tactics. Such Transitions Are Common in Nature and Include the Age-Related Switch from Nest/hive Work to Foraging in Social Insects Such as Honeybees (Apis Mellifera). Because of their Experimental Tractability, Recently Sequenced Genome and Well Understood Biology, Honeybees Are an Ideal Model System for Integrating Molecular, Genetic, Physiological and Sociobiological Perspectives to Advance Understanding of Behavioral and Life History Transitions. When Honeybees (Apis Mellifera) Transition from Hive Work to Foraging, their Flight Muscles Undergo Changes that Allow These Insects to Attain the Highest Rates of Flight Muscle Metabolism and Power Output Ever Recorded in the Animal Kingdom. Here, We Review Research to Date Showing that Honeybee Flight Muscles Undergo Significant Changes in Biochemistry and Gene Expression and that These Changes Accompany a Significant Increase in the Capacity to Generate Metabolic and Aerodynamic Power during Flight. It is Likely that Changes in Muscle Gene Expression, Biochemistry, Metabolism and Functional Capacity May Be Driven Primarily by Behavior as Opposed to Age, as is the Case for Changes in Honeybee Brains.


Biological Sciences

Keywords and Phrases

Aerodynamics; Apis mellifera; Behavioral development; Energetics; Flight; Gene expression; Reserve capacity

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)


Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version

Final Version

File Type





© 2023 The Company of Biologists, All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Nov 2005

PubMed ID


Included in

Entomology Commons