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Olfaction in Guard Honey Bee Responses to Non-Nestmates

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In social insects, nestmate recognition information can come from either contact chemoreception or olfaction. What role do airborne olfactory cues play in nestmate recognition by honey bee colony guards, and how do these signals affect guard orientation and behavior? We demonstrate that airborne cues play a significant role in guard bee recognition of nestmates and non-nestmates. Exposure of a guard bee to the scent of a non-nestmate resulted in increased locomotory rate and changes in the directional orientation of guard bees. Exposure to scent of a non-nestmate did not, however, increase the likelihood that a 2nd non-nestmate would be attacked when placed with the guard. Observations of guard behavior at colony entrances indicated that guards discriminate nestmates from non-nestmates with high efficiency.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 1997

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  • Annals of the Entomological Society of America is published in January, March, May, July, September, and November. Annals especially invites submission of manuscripts that integrate different areas of insect biology, and address issues that are likely to be of broad relevance to entomologists. Articles also report on basic aspects of the biology of arthropods, divided into categories by subject matter: systematics; ecology and population biology; arthropod biology; arthropods in relation to plant diseases; conservation biology and biodiversity; physiology, biochemistry, and toxicology; morphology, histology, and fine structure; genetics; and behavior.
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