Gut symbionts influence the physiology and behavior of their host, but the extent to which these effects scale to social behaviors is an emerging area of research. The use of the western honeybee (Apis mellifera) as a model enables researchers to investigate the gut microbiome and behavior at several levels of social organization. Insight into gut microbial effects at the societal level is critical for our understanding of how involved microbial symbionts are in host biology. In this Commentary, we discuss recent findings in honeybee gut microbiome research and synthesize these with knowledge of the physiology and behavior of other model organisms to hypothesize how host–microbe interactions at the individual level could shape societal dynamics and evolution.

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