Diet and Honeybee Gene Expression
How do bee larvae develop into workers (sterile females)?
It's all about what they're fed. In part, it is because of their diet of pollen, digestive juices (that contain beneficial bacteria, yeasts and fungi) along with honey, that is mixed together to ferment into beebread.
Beebread is rich in protein and in plant regulatory molecules called microRNAs, which delay development and keep their ovaries inactive.
Researchers have long known that diet plays a key role in the complex process that determines whether a honeybee larva will become a worker or a queen.
While the workers primarily consume beebread, the queens feast on royal jelly secreted by the glands of nurse bees.
Diet plays an important role in gene expression, for honeybees and for us!
For more information, see: https://journals.plos.org/plosgenetics/article?id=10.1371/journal.pgen.1006946