Michael L. Smith
4th Year Graduate Student- PhD Candidate
Department of Neurobiology and Behavior
Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853
From a broad perspective, I'm interested in how individuals within a colony gather information about the size and strength of their colony. More specifically, I'm interested in how honey bee colonies regulate their investment in male reproductives: drones.
A honey bee colony, like any organism, must allocate resources between survival and reproduction. We know that a honey bee colony will only invest in male reproduction once they have reached a certain size threshold. However, we don't know how individuals within the colony detect that threshold, nor how they fine-tune their investment.
Drone production is a useful system to study reproductive investment because there are many potential steps for regulation. From building drone comb, to laying a drone egg, to rearing a drone larvae- the workers and the queen determine the overall drone production of the colony.