Journal of Comparative Physiology B

, Volume 162, Issue 7, pp 588–592

Primer effect of queen pheromone on juvenile hormone biosynthesis in adult worker honey bees

  • Hans-Hinrich Kaatz
  • Herbert Hildebrandt
  • Wolf Engels


Juvenile hormone synthesis in adult worker honey bees was measured by an in vitro corpora allata bioassay. Adult queenless workers exhibit higher rates of juvenile hormone biosynthesis than queenright workers. Hormone synthesis is not correlated with the volume of the glands. Extract of queen mandibular glands, applied to a dummy, reduces juvenile hormone biosynthesis in caged queenless workers to the level of queenright workers. The same result was obtained with synthetic (E)-9-oxo-2-decenoic acid, the principal component of the queen mandibular gland secretion. This pheromonal primer effect may function as a key regulating element in maintaining eusocial colony homeostasis. The presence of brood does not affect the hormone production of the corpora allata.

Key words

Juvenile hormone biosynthesis Primer pheromone (E)-9-oxo-2-decenoic acid Social dominance Bee, Apis mellifera 



bovine serum albumin


Corpora allata


juvenile hormone


(E)-9-oxo-2-decnoic acid


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Bühler A, Lanzrein B, Wille H (1983) Influence of temperature and carbon dioxide concentration on juvenile hormone titre and dependent parameters of adult worker honey bees (Apis mellifera L.). J Insect Physiol 29:885–893Google Scholar
  2. Butler CG, Fairey EM (1963) The role of the queen in preventing oogenesis in worker honey bees. J Apic Res 2:14–18Google Scholar
  3. Engels W, Imperatriz-Fonseca VL (1990) Caste development, reproductive strategies, and control of fertility in honey bees and stingless bees. In: Engels W (ed) Social insects. Springer, Berlin Heidelberg New York, pp 167–230Google Scholar
  4. Engels W, Kaatz H-H, Zillikens A, Simões ZLP, Trube A, Braun R, Dittrich F (1990) Honey bee reproduction: vitellogenin and ouste-specific regulation of fertility. Adv Invertebr Reprod 5:495–502Google Scholar
  5. Feyereisen R (1985) Radiochemical assay for juvenile hormone III biosynthesis in vitro. Methods Enzymol 111:530–539Google Scholar
  6. Fischer LC, Kaatz H-H (1990) Funktionelle Differenzierung des Fettkörpers adulter Honigbienen. Verh Dtsch Zool Ges 83:615Google Scholar
  7. Fluri P, Lüscher M, Wille H, Gerig L (1982) Changes in weight of the pharyngeal gland and haemolymph titres of juvenile hormone, protein and vitellogenin in worker honey bees. J Insect Physiol 28:61–68Google Scholar
  8. Free JB (1987) Pheromones of social bees. Chapman and Hall, LondonGoogle Scholar
  9. Gast R (1967) Untersuchungen über den Einfluß der Königinnen-substanz auf die Entwicklung der endokrinen Drüsen bei der Arbeiterin der Honigbiene (Apis mellifica). Insectes Sociaux 14:1–12Google Scholar
  10. Hagenguth H, Rembold H (1978) Identification of juvenile hormone 3 as the only JH homolog in all developmental stages of the honey bee. Z Naturforsch 33C:847–850Google Scholar
  11. Jay SC (1972) Ovary development of worker honeybees when separated from worker brood by various methods. Can J Zool 50:661–664Google Scholar
  12. Kaatz H-H, Hagedorn HH, Engels W (1985) Culture of honey bee organs: development of a new medium and the importance of tracheation. In Vitro Cell Dev Biol 21:347–352Google Scholar
  13. Kaminski L-A, Slessor KN, Winston ML, Hay NW, Borden JH (1990) Honeybee response to queen mandibular pheromone in laboratory bioassays. J Chem Ecol 16:841–850Google Scholar
  14. Kubisová S, Haslbachová H (1985) Effects of brood and extractions prepared from it on the flight activity and biological quality of queenless honeybee groups. Pszczelnicze Zesz Nauk 24:21–27Google Scholar
  15. Lüscher M, Walker J (1963) Zur Frage der Wirkungsweise der Königinnenpheromone bei der Honigbiene. Rev Suisse Zool 70:304–311Google Scholar
  16. Michener CD (1990) Reproduction and castes in halictine bees. In: Engels W (ed) Social insects. Springer, Berlin Heidelberg New York, pp 78–121Google Scholar
  17. Naumann K, Winston ML, Slessor KN, Prestwich GD, Webster FX (1991) Production and transmission of honey bee queen (Apis mellifera L.) mandibular gland pheromone. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 29:321–332Google Scholar
  18. Pratt GE, Tobe SS (1974) Juvenile hormones radiobiosynthesized by corpora allata of adult female locusts in vitro. Life Sci 14:575–586Google Scholar
  19. Rachinsky A, Hartfelder K (1990) Corpora allata activity, a prime regulating element for caste-specific juvenile hormone titer in honey bee larvae (Apis mellifera carnica). J Insect Physiol 36:189–194Google Scholar
  20. Rachinsky A, Hartfelder K (1991) Differential production of juvenile hormone and its desoxy precursor by corpora allata of honeybees during a critical period of caste development. Naturwissenschaften 78:270–272Google Scholar
  21. Robinson GE (1987) Regulation of honey bee age polyethism by juvenile hormone. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 20:329–338Google Scholar
  22. Robinson GE, Page RE, Strambi C, Strambi A (1989) Hormonal and genetic control of behavioural integration in honey bee colonies. Science 246:109–112Google Scholar
  23. Röseler P-F, Röseler I, Honk CGJ van (1981) Evidence for inhibition of corpora allata activity in workers of Bombus terrestris by a pheromone from the queen's mandibular glands. Experientia 37:348–351Google Scholar
  24. Ruttner F, Hesse B (1981) Rassenspezifische Unterschiede in Ovarentwicklung und Eiablage von weisellosen Arbeiterinnen der Honigbiene Apis mellifera L. Apidologie 12:159–183Google Scholar
  25. Sakagami SF, Maeta Y (1985) Multifemale nests and rudimentary caste in the normally solitary bee Ceratina japonica. J Kans Entomol Soc 57:639–656Google Scholar
  26. Slessor KN, Kaminski L-A, King GGS, Borden JH, Winston ML (1988) Semiochemical basis of the retinue response to queen honey bees. Nature 332:354–356Google Scholar
  27. Slessor KN, Kaminski L-A, King GGS, Winston ML (1990) Semiochemicals of the honeybee mandibular glands. J Chem Ecol 16:851–860Google Scholar
  28. Tobe SS, Pratt GE (1974) The influence of substrate concentrations on the rate of insect juvenile hormone biosynthesis by corpora allata of the desert locust in vitro. Biochem J 144:107–113Google Scholar
  29. Tobe SS, Stay B (1985) Structure and regulation of the corpus allatum. Adv Insect Physiol 18:305–432Google Scholar
  30. Velthuis HHW (1970) Queen substances from the abdomen of the honey bee queen. Z Vergl Physiol 70:210–222Google Scholar
  31. Velthuis HHW (1972) Observations on the transmission of queen substances in the honey bee colony by the attendants of the queen. Behaviour 41:105–129Google Scholar
  32. Wilson EO, Bossert WH (1963) Chemical communication among insects. Recent Progr Horm Res 19:673–716Google Scholar
  33. Winston ML, Slessor KN, Willis LG, Nauman K, Higo HA, Wyborn MH, Kaminski L-A (1989) The influence of queen mandibular pheromones on worker attraction to swarm clusters and inhibition of queen rearing in the honey bee (Apis mellifera L.). Insectes Soc 36:15–27Google Scholar
  34. Winston ML, Higo HA, Slessor KN (1990) Effect of various dosages of queen mandibular gland pheromone on the inhibition of queen rearing in the honey bee (Hymenoptera: Apidae). Ann Entomol Soc Am 83:234–238Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hans-Hinrich Kaatz
    • 1
  • Herbert Hildebrandt
    • 1
  • Wolf Engels
    • 1
  1. 1.Zoologisches Institut, Lehrstuhl EntwicklungsphysiologieUniversität TübingenTübingenFRG
  2. 2.Department of EntomologyCenter for Insect ScienceTucsonUSA
  3. 3.Institut für Biologie der TechnischenUniversität BerlinBerlin 10FRG

Personalised recommendations