The effects of honey bee (Apis mellifera) queen mandibular pheromone on colony defensive behaviour
Nicole L Gervan, Mark L Winston, Heather A Higo and Shelley E R Hoover
Honey bee (Apis mellifera) queen mandibular pheromone (QMP) influences many aspects of worker behaviour and physiology. We observed that synthetic QMP seems to calm colonies and reduce stinging, suggesting a role for QMP in managing colony defensive behaviour. We assessed defensive responses of colonies that were queenright, queenless or supplemented with two forms of synthetic QMP (liquid QMP on glass slides or Bee Boost® synthetic lures) by counting stings on a leather patch and the number of responder bees at colony entrances. Colonies with queens showed decreased defensive behaviour when exposed to liquid QMP; colonies without queens and exposed to liquid QMP had no change in the number of stings but a decrease in the number of guard bees. Bee Boost had no effect on colony defensive behaviour in colonies with or without queens. The ability to reduce defensive behaviour with QMP could have positive implications for commercial beekeeping, especially in context with Africanized bees, should an effective release device be developed.