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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: IMPROVE NUTRITION FOR HONEY BEE COLONIES TO STIMULATE POPULATION GROWTH, INCREASE QUEEN QUALITY, AND REDUCE THE IMPACT OF VARROA MITES

Location: Honey Bee Research

Title: Standard methods for chemical ecology research in Apis mellifera

Authors
item Torto, Baldwyn -
item Carroll, Mark
item Duehl, Adrian
item Fombong, Ayuka -
item Gozansky, Tamar -
item Nazzi, Francesco -
item Soroker, Victoria -
item Teal, Peter

Submitted to: Journal of Apicultural Research
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: July 31, 2012
Publication Date: September 1, 2013
Citation: Torto, B., Carroll, M.J., Duehl, A.J., Fombong, A., Gozansky, T.K., Nazzi, F., Soroker, V., Teal, P.E. 2013. Standard methods for chemical ecology research in Apis mellifera. Journal of Apicultural Research. 52(4) 52.4.06. DOI:10.3896/IBRA.1.52.4.06

Interpretive Summary: Volatile odor compounds from honey bee colonies can serve as important chemical signals to other bees, natural enemies, and human observers. Researchers examining colony volatiles require methods that provide an accurate picture of volatiles as they occur in situ, or in the natural setting. This chapter represents the first collection of volatile analysis methods targeted at the specific needs of honey bee researchers. In this chapter, we compare methods used to collect, analyze, and identify volatiles associated with bees and their hive materials from the natural setting. We provide detailed protocols for the capture, analysis, and interpretation of odor chemicals from the hive environment. Key techniques used to collect volatiles in other biological systems, such as SPME, Tenax, thermal desorption, and solvent desorption, are considered in terms of their relative usefullness in honey bee research. We also describe techniques for collecting volatiles from bees at different scales (from individual bees to whole bee colonies). Special emphasis is made on the unique challenges encountered by researchers conducting volatile analysis in the chemically-complex and readily-disturbed hive environment. To this end, we discuss logistical concerns, practical tips, and conceptual considerations that help researchers achieve successful analysis of volatiles under these challenging conditions.

Technical Abstract: This paper describes basic methods essential in elucidating chemically-mediated behavioural interactions among honey bees, and between honey bees and other arthropods. These range from bioassay methods used to demonstrate the role of specific behaviours, techniques and equipment used to collect and analyse semiochemicals (both volatiles and non-volatiles e.g. cuticular hydrocarbons) from individual honey bees, groups of bees or an entire colony in its native environments. This paper covers: collection and analysis of honey bee volatiles in the natural environment, collection and analysis of bee volatiles out of their natural environment and their antennal detection, collection and analysis of non-volatile cuticular hydrocarbons, bioassays with queen pheromone and finally a section focusing on in vitro bioassays as a tool for elucidation of mechanisms regulating pheromone gland activity.

Last Modified: 9/21/2014
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