Page Banner

United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


item Loper, Gerald
item Taylor, Orley
item Foster, Leonard
item Kochansky, Jan

Submitted to: Apicultural Research Journal
Publication Type: Research Notes
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/7/1996
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary: The mating biology of honey bees is fairly well understood, but recently new chemicals produced by the virgin queen have been characterized. These tests were conducted to determine which of the 5 known queen mandibular gland pheromones (QMP) elicit response from flying drones. We found that only one of the five individual chemicals (9-ODA) was attractive. Since 9-ODA is a component of both QMP and the virgin queen extract, these mixtures also attracted drones but not significantly more than the pare 9-ODA. These results are important mostly to bee researchers as they try to understand and manipulate the mating success of different strains of honey bees under natural conditions (free-flying drones and queens).

Technical Abstract: The honey bee queen produces a "bouquet" of at least 5 chemicals in her mandibular glands (QMP) that act as pheromones which strongly influence worker bee behavior. One of the compounds, 9-keto-2-(E)- decenoic acid (9-ODA) is also known to attract flying drones. The 5 separate synthetic chemicals, QMP extract, virgin queen extract and an additional chemical from a plant source which has been reported to be an attractant to honey bee drones were tested to evaluate drone response in the field. Test chemicals were elevated (10m above ground) on a live strung between 2 poles (47m apart) in a drone flyway. The chemicals were applied to cotton wicks in pseudoqueen devices and elevated two at a time for 5 minute intervals. Visual observations of drone response and counts of fly-by, hoverings, contracts and copulations with the pseudoqueens were made. Weather conditions (excessive winds) reduced the number of copulations obtained: there were 12:10:8 at pseudoqueens loaded with 0.6 queen- equivalents (Qeq.) of QMP: 9-ODA: virgin queen extract, respectively. Drones did not respond in any way to any of the other chemicals.

Last Modified: 06/24/2017
Footer Content Back to Top of Page