Free access
Volume 26, Number 1, 1995
Page(s) 17 - 26
Apidologie 26 (1995) 17-26
DOI: 10.1051/apido:19950103

Ultrastructure of the wax gland complex and secretion of beeswax in the worker honey bee Apis mellifera L

P. Cassiera and Y. Lenskyb

a  Université Pierre-et-Marie-Curie, laboratoire d'évolution des êtres organisés, 105, boulevard Raspail, 75006 Paris, France
b  Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Triwaks Bee Research Center, Faculty of Agriculture, 76100 Rehovot, Israel

Abstract - The wax gland complex of the honey bee worker consists of 3 cell types, epithelial cells, oenocytes and adipocytes, which act synergistically to secrete wax, a complex mixture of hydrocarbons, fatty acids and proteins (lipophorins). The structure of the wax mirrors and the different types of cells were studied with scanning and transmission electron microscopy. The hydrocarbons coming from the oenocytes and the proteins from the haemolymph transit across the epithelium via the large SER cisternae and through the mirror plate along a well-developed extracellular and pore canal filamentous system connected to wax canal filaments of the epicuticle.

Key words: Apis mellifera ligustica / wax mirror / ultrastructure / wax gland / hydrocarbon / protein