Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 18, Issue 9, pp 1633–1640

Honeybee nestmate recognition: Effects of queen fecal pheromones

  • M. D. Breed
  • T. M. Stiller
  • M. S. Blum
  • R. E. PageJr.


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 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. D. Breed
    • 1
  • T. M. Stiller
    • 1
  • M. S. Blum
    • 2
  • R. E. PageJr.
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Environmental, Population, and Organismic BiologyThe University of ColoradoBoulder
  2. 2.Department of EntomologyThe University of GeorgiaAthens
  3. 3.Department of EntomologyThe University of CaliforniaDavis

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