Antennal contact and food transfer are also important in the transfer of pheromones from immature queen honeybees (Free and Ferguson, 1982). Queens are reared in acorn-shaped wax cells that project and hang down- wards from the surface of the comb. Workers surrounding queen cells lick and palpate the cell walls. More workers face and palpate open cells containing queen larvae than closed cells containing queen pupae, and the queen larvae themselves are inspected almost continuously. However, wor ers are particularly inclined to lick queen cells containing pupae.
Immediately after visiting cells containing immature queens, workers engage in prolonged cleaning, particularly of their tongues when they have visited larvae, and of their antennae when they have visited pupae. This intensive grooming may help distribute pheromone over their bodies and increase their attractiveness to other bees. Thereafter, other workers usually initiate and make antennal contact with them.
Presumably the pheromone produced by immature queens is released by diffusion through the walls of the queen cell. Workers can obtain pheromone by direct Contact with queen larvae, but they can only obtain queen pupae pheromone that has permeated the queen cell walls. In a queen cell containing a pupa, a space is left between the cocoon and the wax that covers the cell tip (Jay, 1963). At any time during the pupal stage, but usually two or three days before the queen is due to emerge, worker bees remove this wax. Learn more about pheromones at http://hartch25.weebly.com/our-marketing-blog/she-was-using-pheromones and http://chrshrt112.typepad.com/blog/2015/11/pheromone-scientist-research.html
This behaviour may facilitate release of pheromone from the queen cell.
Workers that have visited queen larvae often donate food during antennal contact with other bees, so any pheromone they lick from queen larvae could also be distributed through the colony in food (Free and Ferguson, 1982). There appears to be a division of labour between workers feeding worker larvae and queen larvae, the latter tending to be attended and fed by older bees (Furgala and Boch, 1961; Smith, 1974). Consequently, bees feeding or inspecting queen larvae may be consistent recipients and carriers of relatively large amounts of pheromone. Although workers frequently lick closed queen cells (presumably to obtain pheromone), there is no evidence to suggest that it is subsequently transferred in regurgitated food (Free and Ferguson, 1982). Because available evidence indicates that the pheromones of immature queens are likely to be different from those of mature queens (pages 21 and 42), it would not be surprising if its means of distribution also differed. Learn more about pheromones at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/blogcomments/104845
Pheromone transfer in the air
Pheromone transfer by antennal contact is not the only means of signalling the presence of a queen within the nest (Fig. 2.2). Within about 30 minutes from the time a queen has been removed from a colony, or otherwise lost, the bees become agitated and search for her around the entrance.
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