Droning On About Bee Chemistry

 9-oxo-2-decenoic acid structure

Not spiders, but bees. Researchers at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign have identified an odorant receptor that allows male bee drones to find a queen in flight. The receptor is present on the male antennae and can detect an available queen up to 60 metres away, which is quite a feat in chemical detection. This is the first time an odorant receptor has been linked to a specific pheromone in honey bees.

The “queen substance”, a pheromone, was first identified decades ago, but scientists have only recently begun to understand its structure and its role in hive life. The pheromone is a primary source of the queen’s authority. It is made up of eight components, one of which, 9-oxo-2-decenoic acid (9-ODA), attracts the drones during mating flights. It also draws workers to the queen and retards their reproductive growth.

More on this direct from Illinois

2 thoughts on “Droning On About Bee Chemistry

  1. When I was doing my Chemistry degree in Liverpool I will admit to finding time to engage in “fun times”. I think it’s time to do the research on “club-scent”. For sure I have witnessed similar behaviors:
    1)The receptor is present on the male antennae and can detect an available queen up to 60 metres away
    2) Something “special” is a primary source of the queen’s authority in a club…there’s always “one”.
    3) Whatever it is …It also draws workers to the queen and retards their reproductive growth. Well, for most of them anyways…

  2. More news on bees and queens…

    Research in Plos One reveals that the number of inseminations of a queen alters her physiology, queen pheromone profile, and queen-worker interactions, thus potentially explaining why honey bees mate with multiple males.

    These guys have got a stinging fixation, is all I can say…

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