Free access
Volume 34, Number 6, November-December 2003
Page(s) 603 - 610
Apidologie 34 (2003) 603-610
DOI: 10.1051/apido:2003053

Antennal glands in male bees: structures for sexual communication by pheromones?

Roberto Romania, Nunzio Isidorob, Paola Riolob and Ferdinando Bina

a  Dipartimento di Arboricoltura e Protezion delle Piante - Entomologia, University of Perugia, Borgo XX Giugno 74, 06121, Perugia, Italy
b  Dipartimento di Scienze Ambientali e delle Produzioni Vegetali, Università Politecnica delle Marche, via Brecce Bianche, 60131, Ancona, Italy

(Received 1st March 2003; revised 20 May 2003; accepted 5 June 2003)

Morphological investigations were conducted on male antennae of three Apidae species, Apis mellifera , Bombus pascuorum and Xylocopa violacea. Male antennal glands were present in all species, with some differences regarding both external morphological characters and internal cytological features. There are externally obvious sites of pheromonal release (provided with evident pores) in B. pascuorum and X. violacea males, while pores are lacking in A. mellifera males. Internally A. mellifera presents a glandular complex composed of class 1 secretory cells, while the two other species possess two types of glands (with class 1 and class 3 secretory cells) associated with the same release sites. The functional hypothesis for the secretion of these glands is that they may act as a sex pheromone during courtship behaviour.

Key words: Apis / Bombus / Xylocopa / gland / ultrastructure / sex recognition

Correspondence and reprints: Roberto Romani

© INRA, EDP Sciences, DIB, AGIB 2003