Free Access
Volume 33, Number 6, November-December 2002
Page(s) 525 - 537
Apidologie 33 (2002) 525-537
DOI: 10.1051/apido:2002035

Honeybees Dufour's gland - idiosyncrasy of a new queen signal

Tamar Katzav-Gozanskya, Victoria Sorokerb and Abraham Hefetza

a  Department of Zoology, George S. Wise Faculty of Life Science, Tel Aviv University, Ramat Aviv, Tel Aviv, Israel
b  Department of Entomology, ARO, The Volcani center Bet Dagan, 50250, Israel

(Received 8 October 2001; revised 15 April 2002; accepted 28 May 2002)

Dufour's gland (DG) secretion of queens in Apis mellifera is normally caste specific. In queenright (QR) workers it is composed of odd n alkanes, while in queens it also possesses long chain esters. However, glandular expression is plastic since queenless (QL) workers produce a queen-like secretion. Moreover, QR gland incubated in vitro produced these esters, indicating that glandular activity is regulated. We tested the hypothesis that the secretion is an egg marking pheromone. Chemical analysis of the egg coating revealed minute amounts of the queen esters, but neither queen secretion nor the synthetic esters were able to protect worker-laid eggs from policing, refuting the hypothesis. Analysis of abdominal tips further revealed that Dufour's egg secretion is also smeared on the abodominal cuticle, suggesting that its presence on egg surface may be due to passive contamination. Next, we tested the hypothesis that the secretion serves as a queen signal. Indeed queens, but not worker glandular secretion were attractive to workers.

Key words: Dufour's gland / honeybee, queen-signal / caste-specificity / retinue behavior

Correspondence and reprints: Tamar Katzav-Gozansky

© INRA, EDP Sciences, DIB, AGIB 2002