Chemical communication in the honeybee (Apis mellifera L.): a review

https://doi.org/10.17221/1543-VETMEDCitation:Trhlin M., Rajchard J. (2011):  Chemical communication in the honeybee (Apis mellifera L.): a review. Veterinarni Medicina, 56: 265-273.
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An important area of physiology of the honeybee (Apis mellifera) is chemical communication between individuals and castes in the swarm, which maintains its integrity and function. The highly complex social organization of honeybees is mediated through pheromones. Releaser pheromones cause rapid changes in the behaviour of the recipient, while primer pheromones have relatively slow and long-term effects on the physiology and behaviour of the recipient. Queen retinue pheromone (QRP) is a blend of the nine compounds (9-oxo-(E)-2-decenoic acid, (R)- and (S)-9-hydroxy-(E)-2-decenoic acid, methyl p-hydroxybenzoate, 4-hydroxy-3-methyoxyphenylethanol, methyl oleate, coniferyl alcohol, palmityl alcohol, and linolenic acid) and acts as a releaser pheromone by attracting worker bees to the queen. QRP also acts as a primer pheromone by physiologically inhibiting the ovary development of worker bees. An essential component of QRP, 9-oxo-(E)-2-decenoic acid, acts as a long-distance sex pheromone. Defensive behaviour of honeybees is induced and modulated by alarm pheromones. The essential alarm pheromone component is isopentyl acetate (IPA). The unsaturated derivative of IPA, 3-methyl-2-buten-1-yl acetate, was found in colonies of Africanized honeybees. The Nasanov gland of worker bees produces a pheromone (a blend of nerol, geraniol, (E)- and (Z)-citral, nerolic acid, geranic acid and (E,E)-farnesol) that acts as an attracting signal. This pheromone is used for aggregation (during swarming). Adult worker bees also produce a substance, ethyl oleate, that has a priming effect. Ethyl oleate is produced by adult forager bees and acts as a chemical inhibitory factor to delay age at onset of foraging (the presence of older worker bees causes a delayed onset of foraging in younger individuals). Chemical cues on the surface of larvae called a brood pheromone (ethyl and methyl esters of palmitic, linoleic, linolenic, stearic, and oleic acids, E-β-ocimene) are important in the communication between brood and worker bees. This pheromone modulates the feeding behaviour of worker bees, inhibits the activation of the worker ovary, induces worker bees to cap brood cells, increases the activity of the hypopharyngeal glands of nurse bees and modulates the behavioural maturation of worker bees.
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