Free access
Volume 21, Number 6, 1990
Page(s) 493 - 500
Apidologie 21 (1990) 493-500
DOI: 10.1051/apido:19900601

Queen discrimination by honeybee (Apis mellifera L) workers

J.B. Free, A.W. Ferguson and J.R. Simpkins

AFRC Institute of Arable Crops Research, Rothamsted Experimental Station, Harpenden, Hertfordshire, AL5 2JQ, UK

Abstract - A simple new technique for testing worker honeybees' ability to distinguish between honeybee queens is presented. Two queens were caged separately with groups of young sibling workers which were the daughters of another queen. The cages were exposed to the same environmental odours for 10 days. When placed in the test apparatus and given a choice of both queens, workers segregated towards the queen with which they had been caged. This provides further evidence that the distinctive odour of an individual queen is probably partly inherited and is learned by workers. The nature and functioning of queen odours are discussed.

Key words: Apis mellifera / queen recognition / odour / genetic component