Queen pheromones affecting the production of queen-like secretion in workers

Katzav Gozansky Tamar*, Boulay Raphaël, Soroker Victoria, Hefetz Abraham

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The honeybee queen pheromones promote both worker sterility and worker-like pheromone composition; in their absence workers become fertile and express the queen pheromones. Which of the queen pheromones regulate worker pheromone expression and how, is still elusive. Here we investigated how two queen pheromones, the mandibular and Dufour's, singly or combined, affect worker ovarian activation and occurrence of queen-like Dufour's esters. Although queen mandibular pheromone (QMP) alone, or combined with Dufour's secretion, inhibited to some extent worker reproduction, neither was as effective as the queen. The effect of the queen pheromones on worker pheromone expression was limited to workers with developed ovaries. Here too, QMP and Dufour's combined had the greatest inhibitory effect. In contrast, treatment with Dufour's alone resulted in augmentation of esters in the workers. This is another demonstration that a pheromone emitted by one individual affects the rates of its production in another individual. Ester production was tightly coupled to ovarian development. However fertile workers from queenright or QMP-treated colonies had significantly higher amounts of esters in their Dufour's gland than untreated queenless colonies. The fact that the queen or QMP exert greater suppression on signal production than on ovary activation, suggests disparate regulatory pathways, and presents a challenging ultimate as well as proximate questions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)737-742
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Comparative Physiology A: Neuroethology, Sensory, Neural, and Behavioral Physiology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2006


  • Dufour's gland
  • Honeybee
  • Queen pheromones
  • Queen-worker conflict


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