Individual recognition and learning of queen odors by worker honeybees


A honeybee queen is usually attacked if she is placed among the workers of a colony other than her own. This rejection occurs even if environmental sources of odor, such as food, water, and genetic origin of the workers, are kept constant in laboratory conditions. The genetic similarity of queens determines how similar their recognition characteristics are; inbred sister queens were accepted in 35% of exchanges, outbred sister queens in 12%, and nonsister queens in 0%. Carbon dioxide narcosis results in worker honeybees accepting nonnestmate queens. A learning curve is presented, showing the time after narcosis required by workers to learn to recognize a new queen. In contrast, worker transfers result in only a small percentage of the workers being rejected. The reason for the difference between queens and workers may be because of worker and queen recognition cues having different sources.

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