The behaviour of queen honeybees and their attendants

A - Papers appearing in refereed journals

Free, J. B., Ferguson, A. W. and Simpkins, J. R. 1992. The behaviour of queen honeybees and their attendants. Physiological Entomology. 17 (1), pp. 43-55.

AuthorsFree, J. B., Ferguson, A. W. and Simpkins, J. R.

The behaviour of queen and worker honeybees (Apis mellifera L.) was observed using small colonies in observation hives. Workers paid more attention to queens which had been mated for 2 months or more than to those which were newly mated; virgin queens received least attention. Queens received most attention when they were stationary and least when they were walking over the comb; virgin queens were most active. Queen cells had as many attendants as virgin queens and queen larvae were inspected almost continuously. The queen pheromone component 9-oxo-trans-2-decenoic acid stimulated 'court' behaviour when presented on small polyethylene blocks, but workers responded aggressively to complete extracts of queens' heads. Both the heads and abdomens of mated queens received much attention from court workers but the abdomens were palpated by more workers for longer and were licked much more. The queens' thoraces were least attended. Abdominal tergites posterior to tergite glands were licked for longer than those anterior to the glands. Only worker bees very near to the queen reacted to her and joined her 'court'. No evidence was found of a diel periodicity in the behaviour of a queen or her 'court'. During the winter the queen's court was smaller than in summer and she walked less and laid fewer eggs. When colonies were fed with sucrose syrup in winter, their queens laid more eggs and workers reared more brood but there was no change in the attention received by the queens. The implications of these findings for the secretion and distribution of queen pheromones are discussed.

Year of Publication1992
JournalPhysiological Entomology
Journal citation17 (1), pp. 43-55
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Open accessPublished as non-open access
Funder project or code210

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