Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 32, Issue 5, pp 1043–1056 | Cite as

Virgin Queen Mandibular Gland Signals of Apis mellifera capensis Change with Age and Affect Honeybee Worker Responses

  • Theresa C. Wossler
  • Georgina E. Jones
  • Michael H. Allsopp
  • Randall Hepburn


The mandibular gland secretions of Apis mellifera capensis virgin queens were analyzed by gas chromatography–mass spectroscopy. Changes in the patterns of the mandibular gland volatiles of A. m. capensis virgin queens were followed from emergence until 14-d old. Ontogenetic changes in the mandibular gland secretions were largely quantitative in nature, delineating the age categories (global R = 0.612, P = 0.001), except for 7- and 14-d-old queens, which cannot be separated on their mandibular gland profiles (P = 0.2). (E)-9-Oxodec-2-enoic acid (9ODA) contributes most and most consistently to the dissimilarity between groups as well as the similarity within groups. Worker reactions to introduced virgin queens of various ages were recorded. Workers showed a significant increase in hostile reactions as queens aged (r = 0.615, N = 20, P < 0.05). Consequently, worker reactions and relative 9ODA production exhibit a positive queen age-dependent response.


Apis mellifera capensis Mandibular gland secretions (E)-9-ketodec-2-enoic acid Virgin queen pheromones Signal ontogeny 



We thank the National Research Foundation for funding this project. Thanks are also due to Dr. Arnaud Grégoire for his statistical contribution.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Theresa C. Wossler
    • 1
  • Georgina E. Jones
    • 2
  • Michael H. Allsopp
    • 3
  • Randall Hepburn
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Botany and ZoologyUniversity of StellenboschMatielandSouth Africa
  2. 2.Department of Zoology and EntomologyRhodes UniversityGrahamstownSouth Africa
  3. 3.Honeybee Research SectionPlant Protection Research Institute, Agricultural Research CouncilStellenboschSouth Africa

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