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J Chem Ecol. 2005 Nov;31(11):2731-45. Epub 2005 Oct 25.

Pheromone communication in the honeybee (Apis mellifera L.).

Author information

1
Department of Chemistry, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada V5A 1S6.

Abstract

Recent studies have demonstrated a remarkable and unexpected complexity in social insect pheromone communication, particularly for honeybees (Apis mellifera L.). The intricate interactions characteristic of social insects demand a complex language, based on specialized chemical signals that provide a syntax that is deeper in complexity and richer in nuance than previously imagined. Here, we discuss this rapidly evolving field for honeybees, the only social insect for which any primer pheromones have been identified. Novel research has demonstrated the importance of complexity, synergy, context, and dose, mediated through spatial and temporal pheromone distribution, and has revealed an unprecedented wealth of identified semiochemicals and functions. These new results demand fresh terminology, and we propose adding "colony pheromone" and "passenger pheromone" to the current terms sociochemical, releaser, and primer pheromone to better encompass our growing understanding of chemical communication in social insects.

PMID:
16273438
DOI:
10.1007/s10886-005-7623-9
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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