Free Access
Volume 38, Number 1, January-February 2007
Page(s) 104 - 109
Published online 16 January 2007
Apidologie 38 (2007) 104-109
DOI: 10.1051/apido:2006057

Setosa membrane structure and occurrence of eicosenol in honeybees (Apis sp.)

Stephen J. Martina, Junichi Takahashib and Falko P. Drijfhoutc

a  Laboratory of Apiculture and Social Insects, Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield, Western Bank, Sheffield, S10 2TN, UK
b  Department of Ecology and Systematics, Graduate School of Agriculture, Tamagawa University, Tokyo, Japan
c  Chemical Ecology Group, School of Chemistry and Physics, Lennard Jones Laboratories, Keele University, Staffordshire, ST5 5BG, UK

(Received 27 February 2006 - Revised 5 July 2006 - Accepted 7 July 2006 - Published online 16 January 2007)

Abstract - Morphological analysis showed that the setosa membrane of workers is reduced in Apis cerana and A. koschevnikovi in comparison to that of A. mellifera. This may be due to different predator pressures among these species. This finding is supported by the marked reduction in the amount of the alarm pheromone eicosenol detected on the sting apparatus (setose area) in A. cerana workers in relation to that found in A. mellifera workers. The setosa membranes of the three open nesting species, A. andreniformis, A. florae and A. dorsata are well developed despite eicosenol being completely absent in A. dorsata and present in only trace amounts in A. florea and A. andreniformis workers. We also confirm that during dissection the internal glands of the sting apparatus do not become contaminated with compounds such as eicosenol, which can be present on the sting surface in high concentrations.

Key words: honeybee / eicosenol / Dufour gland / defence / alarm pheromone

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© INRA, DIB-AGIB, EDP Sciences 2007