Free Access
Volume 30, Number 4, 1999
Page(s) 311 - 320
Apidologie 30 (1999) 311-320
DOI: 10.1051/apido:19990407

Honeybee queen tergal gland secretion affects ovarian development in caged workers

Theresa C. Wosslera and Robin M. Creweb

a  Communication Biology Research Group, Department of Zoology, University of the Witwatersrand, Private Bag 3, Wits 2050, Johannesburg, South Africa
b  Department of Zoology and Entomology, University of Pretoria, Pretoria 0002, South Africa

Abstract - The inhibitory effects of honeybee queen tergal gland secretion on worker ovarian development was studied using a laboratory bioassay with the honeybee races Apis mellifera capensis and A. m. scutellata. Glass pseudoqueens were treated with daily doses of tergal gland extracts from virgin queens and exposed to queenless experimental groups of caged workers. The control groups of queenless caged workers were exposed to solvent controls. Analysis using loglinear models showed that there were no interactions between treatment, race and cage, with respect to the frequency of developing ovaries. The response was homogeneous among cages and among the two races. The virgin queen tergal gland extracts of both A. m. capensis and A. m. scutellata inhibited ovarian development in their own workers (χ2 = 8.28; df = 1; P = 0.004). These results indicate that the secretion from the tergal glands can operate as a primer pheromone. © Inra/DIB/AGIB/Elsevier, Paris

Key words: Apis mellifera / worker reproduction / ovarian development / queen pheromone