Free Access
Volume 29, Number 1-2, 1998
Colony integration
Page(s) 81 - 95
Apidologie 29 (1998) 81-95
DOI: 10.1051/apido:19980105

Honey bee primer pheromones and colony organization: gaps in our knowledge

Mark L. Winstona and Keith N. Slessorb

a  Department of Biological Sciences, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC V5A 1S6, Canada
b  Department of Chemistry, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC V5A 1S6, Canada

Abstract - The purpose of this article is to discuss gaps in our knowledge concerning how honey bee primer pheromones mediate worker activities and colony functions. We first review the chemical structure and functions of queen mandibular pheromone (QMP), but then focus primarily on areas of potential future research interest. We discuss the mode of action that QMP may have on workers, address the issue of why QMP is a complex blend of five components, propose an evolutionary pathway for pheromone complexity in the genus Apis, discuss biochemical differences between worker and queen mandibular glands, review the evidence for additional queen pheromones besides QMP, examine how queen and brood pheromones interact to mediate colony biology, and discuss the relative importance of congestion and population size in pheromone transmission. Finally, we suggest some research areas that involve commercial applications of honey bee pheromones for beekeeping and crop pollination. © Inra/DIB/AGIB/Elsevier, Paris

Key words: Apis mellifera / primer pheromones / queen pheromones / colony integration