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Honey Bee Pheromones - Research Paper Example

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17 November 2011 Honeybee Pheromones – Vital Chemical Messengers Honeybees (Apis mellifera) live in socially organized swarms that are highly complex. A single swarm represents one large industry in which every individual bee has an assigned function, and all the individuals work together towards a common goal…
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Honey Bee Pheromones
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"Honey Bee Pheromones"

Download file to see previous pages Pheromones are the most important chemical mediators in honeybees, maintaining the integrity of the hive and enabling interaction between queen and worker bees, between worker bees themselves, between queen bees and drones, and between the brood and the adults of the swarm. 1. Pheromone Physiology Pheromones are chemical signals or messengers that are released from specialized glands in bees. The Nasanov gland, located above the abdomen, releases attractant pheromones. The Mandibular gland, located near the mouth, and the Sting gland release alarm pheromones. These chemicals are not only important for communication but also for behavioral-control (Breed 1998). Pheromones are of two types, releaser pheromones and primer pheromones. Releaser pheromones act immediately on the recipient while primer pheromones are slow and have long-term effects (Breed 1998; Trhlin & Rajchard 2011). Breed identifies four criteria that should be fulfilled by a pheromone to be an effective interaction and recognition tool. It should be present, should be perceived, should be more identical among nestmates (family members) than random individuals of the population, and should be able to elicit a behavior-related response. 2. Intercommunication Mediated by Pheromones While the functions of honeybee pheromones are wide ranging, Trhlin & Rajchard (2011) have categorized them into four comprehensive categories based on who the elicitor and the recipient of the chemical message is. This paper discusses the importance of pheromones in these four kinds of interactions that are necessary for the optimal functioning of a beehive. The different pheromones involved in the interaction between the queen bees, workers, drones and broods are summarized in Table 1. Some of the important components of these pheromones are also listed. 2.1 Queen and Worker Bee Interaction The queen retinue pheromone (QRP) and the queen mandibular pheromone (QMP): QRP produced by the queen bee attracts worker bees. 9-oxo-(E)-2-decenoic acid (ODA) is an important constituent of this pheromone. Other chemical constituents are also produced by the queen’s mandibular glands, which blend to form the QMP. As a queen bee ages, the relative concentration of these chemicals in the queen’s pheromones changes. Apart from attracting the worker bees and helping in the differentiation of queen and worker bees, these pheromones also elicit priming effects. These pheromones maintain social harmony and calm in the beehive by altering the behavioral response of the worker bees (Conte & Hefetz 2008). These pheromones also inhibit the development of ovaries of worker bees. The QRP also acts as a releaser pheromone. Queen bee pheromones are transmitted to worker bees of the queen bee’s retinue through direct contact. These pheromones are then transmitted to other worker bees when they interact with the retinue bees. The QMP of the queen bee is not only important for binding the colony together, maintaining social harmony in the beehive and establishing the queen’s monarchy, but also for the maintenance of the health of the worker bees (Wright 2009; Trhlin & Rajchard 2011). Studies by Fischer and Grozinger have shown that worker bees exposed to QMP resist starvation and have a more efficient lipid storage mechanism (Trhlin & Rajchard 2011). QMP enables the transition of worker bees from nursing to foraging and also regulates swarming ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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