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Naturwissenschaften. 2004 Apr;91(4):178-81. Epub 2004 Feb 27.

Worker honey bee pheromone regulation of foraging ontogeny.

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  • 1Department of Entomology, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843-2475, USA.


The evolution of sociality has configured communication chemicals, called primer pheromones, which play key roles in regulating the organization of social life. Primer pheromones exert relatively slow effects that fundamentally alter developmental, physiological, and neural systems. Here, I demonstrate how substances extracted from the surface of foraging and young pre-foraging worker bees regulated age at onset of foraging, a developmental process. Hexane-extractable compounds washed from foraging workers increased foraging age compared with controls, whereas extracts of young pre-foraging workers decreased foraging age. This represents the first known direct demonstration of primer pheromone activity derived from adult worker bees.

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