Chemical recognition of queen cells by honey bee workersApis mellifera (Hymenoptera: Apidae)
- Cite this article as:
- Conte, Y.L., Sreng, L., Sacher, N. et al. Chemoecology (1994) 5: 6. doi:10.1007/BF01259967
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Honey bee workers are able to nurse or to destroy and thus to recognize the capped queen cells containing a pupa. Fatty acid esters, especially methyl oleate, methyl palmitate and ethyl oleate were found in significant amounts on the queen pupal cuticle. Methyl oleate, the major component, along with smaller amounts of methyl linoleate and methyl linolenate, were involved in the recognition of queen cells by workers. In natural conditions of the colony, queen cells containing a paraffin pupal lure with methyl oleate were accepted 5.9 days by workers, releasing about 1.8 queen pupa equivalents during that period, when control cells (without ester) were kept only 2.1 days. Although these esters are non specific to honey bees, they are of great importance in social regulation of the honey bee colony.