Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 21, Issue 11, pp 1635–1648

Can social bees be influenced to choose a specific feeding station by adding the scent of the station to the hive air?

  • H. B. Jakobsen
  • K. Kristjánsson
  • B. Rohde
  • M. Terkildsen
  • C. E. Olsen


The behavioral response of honeybees (Apis mellifera L.) and bumblebees (Bombus terrestris L.) to the flower volatiles 2-ethyl-1-hexanol and myrcene isolated in situ from white clover (Trifolium repens L.) and oil seed rape (Brassica napus oleifera), respectively, were investigated on a rotating arena with 12 visually identical, but differently scented, feeding stations. When locating a feeding station, neutral in both shape and color, foragers used scent as orientation cue. Introduction of 2-ethyl-1-hexanol to the honeybee hives induced significantly more visits to sites containing this compound. In contrast, introduction of myrcene to the hives did not influence the foraging choices of honeybees significantly. No effect of hive scent composition on the choices made by bumblebees could be detected. “Experienced” bumble bees, i.e., bees with more than five visits to the feeding stations, tended to visit a particular position on the arena without discriminating between the two volatiles. In contrast, honeybees showed no positioning behavior on the arena, using primarily odoriferous stimuli. The observed influences of addition of scents to the hives are discussed in relation to the general knowledge on foraging behavior of social bees and the emission of volatiles from leaves and flowers.

Key Words

Bombus terrestris bumblebee Apis mellifera honeybee floral scent hive scent foraging choices foraging behavior positioning scent orientation 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • H. B. Jakobsen
    • 1
  • K. Kristjánsson
    • 2
  • B. Rohde
    • 2
  • M. Terkildsen
    • 2
  • C. E. Olsen
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Plant Biology, Plant Physiology and Anatomy LaboratoryThe Royal Veterinary and Agricultural UniversityFrederiksberg C.Denmark
  2. 2.Department of Agricultural SciencesThe Royal Veterinary and Agricultural UniversityFrederiksberg C.Denmark
  3. 3.Department of ChemistryThe Royal Veterinary and Agricultural UniversityFrederiksberg C.Denmark
  4. 4.Department of Food Science and TechnologyResearch Center AarslevAarslevDenmark

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