Pheromone (from Ancient Greek phero “to bear” and hormone, from Ancient Greek “impetus”) ) is the secretion of chemical factors that cause social response in members of the same species. Pheromones are chemicals capable of operating outside the body secretions of an individual to influence the behavior of some group or colony. In addition, some vertebrates and plants communicate using pheromones. There are different types of pheromones like: alarm pheromones, food trail pheromones, sex pheromones, and many others that affect behavior or physiology. These chemical messengers are transported outside of the body and result in a direct effect on behavioral change.
These chemical messengers secreted by a queen, drone, worker bee or laying worker bee to elicit a response in other bees. The chemical messages are received by the bee’s antenna and other body parts.
Types of honeybee pheromones
– Alarm pheromone
– Brood recognition pheromone
– Drone pheromone
– Dufour’s gland pheromone
– Egg marking pheromone
– Footprint pheromone
– Forager pheromone
– Nasonov pheromone
– Other pheromones
Types of queen honeybee pheromones
– Queen mandibular pheromone
– Queen retinue pheromone
Two main alarm pheromones have been identified in honeybee workers. One is released by the Koschevnikov gland and consists of more than 40 chemical compounds. Alarm pheromones are released when a bee stings another animal, and attract other bees to the location and causes the other bees to behave defensively. The other alarm pheromone is released by the mandibular glands. This compound has a repellent effect and it was proposed that it is used to deter potential enemies from the colony.
Brood recognition pheromone
Another pheromone is responsible for preventing worker bees from bearing offspring in a colony that still has developing young.
Drones produce a pheromone that attracts other flying drones to promote drone aggregations at sites suitable for mating with virgin queens.
Egg marking pheromone
This pheromone, helps nurse bees distinguish between eggs laid by the queen bee and eggs laid by a laying worker.
This pheromone is left by bees when they walk and is useful in enhancing Nasonov pheromones in searching for nectar.
Nasonov pheromone is emitted by the worker bees and used for orientation.
Other pheromones produced by most honeybees include rectal gland pheromone, tarsal pheromone, wax gland and comb pheromone, and tergite gland pheromone.
Queen mandibular pheromone
Queen mandibular pheromone (QMP), emitted by the queen, is one of the most important sets of pheromones in the bee hive. It affects social behavior, maintenance of the hive, swarming, mating behavior, and inhibition of ovary development in worker bees.
Queen retinue pheromone
This pheromone also been identified, of which only coniferyl alcohol is found in the mandibular glands. The combination of the 5 QMP compounds and the 4 compounds below is called the queen retinue pheromone (QRP).
While humans and many other species in their communication highly depend on visual contact, and verbal communication bees have highly developed interaction guided by pheromones’ impact.