Article

Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 18, Issue 9, pp 1633-1640

Honeybee nestmate recognition: Effects of queen fecal pheromones

  • M. D. BreedAffiliated withDepartment of Environmental, Population, and Organismic Biology, The University of Colorado
  • , T. M. StillerAffiliated withDepartment of Environmental, Population, and Organismic Biology, The University of Colorado
  • , M. S. BlumAffiliated withDepartment of Entomology, The University of Georgia
  • , R. E. PageJr.Affiliated withDepartment of Entomology, The University of California

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access

Abstract

Previous work has shown that queen honeybees,Apis mellifera, produce waxy esters composed of 8–14 carbon acids and 6–14 carbon alcohols in their feces. We tested these esters for effects on nestmate recognition; 11 of the 12 esters tested significantly modified the recognition characteristics of worker honeybees. Pairwise tests showed that workers can discriminate between at least some pairs of queen esters and that workers can discriminate between a queen ester and hexadecane (another known nestmate recognition cue). These results suggest that a queen may use the esters to enable workers to recognize her or to scent-mark her colony.

Key Words

Apis mellifera honeybee Hymenoptera Apidae queen fecal pheromones esters kin recognition