Preliminary report on the use of volatile compounds by foraging honey bees in the hive (Hymenoptera: Apidae: Apis)

Corinna Thom, Anna Dornhaus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


A honey bee colony (Apis mellifera Linnaeus) frequently adjusts its nectar foraging effort to changes in foraging conditions. It is possible that workers use a volatile substance, e.g. a pheromone, to quickly activate foragers in all regions of the hive. To test whether volatiles from a foraging colony can activate foragers of a non-foraging colony, two colonies, each restricted to a different greenhouse, were connected with a glass tube that allowed volatiles to drift between colonies. During the experiment, one colony was allowed to forage unscented sugar water. The scent of the foraging colony was fanned into the colony that did not have sugar water available, and the number of times that workers each left the hive and arrived at the empty feeder station was recorded. The number of visits of the empty feeder by foragers from the non-foraging colony tended to increase, while the number of times that bees left the hive did not seem to change. The result suggests an increase in foraging motivation of already active foragers. However, the results will have to be corroborated by further experiments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)299-304
Number of pages6
JournalEntomologia Generalis
Issue number2-4
StatePublished - 2007


  • Apis mellifera Linnaeus 1758
  • Nectar collection
  • Pheromone
  • Recruitment
  • Stimulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Insect Science


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