Honeybee (Apis mellifera L.) queen feces: Source of a pheromone that repels worker bees

David C. Post, Robert E. Page, Eric H. Erickson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


When placed in a small observation arena with workers, most young virgin honeybee queens released fecal (hindgut) material during agonistic interactions with workers and with each other. On release of this material, workers moved to the sides of the arena and groomed themselves. Bioassays of virgin queen fecal material demonstrated that it contains pheromone that repels workers and stimulates grooming behavior. Pheromone was present only in the feces of virgin queens that were more than 24 hr old and less than 2 weeks old. Feces of 2- to 4-day-old workers and virgin queens more than 2 weeks old did not elicit an avoidance response by workers. Moreover, the feces of young virgin queens had a strong fragrance, while that of older queens had a rancid odor and that of young workers had no detectable odor.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)583-591
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Chemical Ecology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 1987


  • Apidae
  • Apis mellifera
  • Honeybee
  • Hymenoptera
  • feces
  • queen acceptance
  • queen pheromone
  • repellent

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Biochemistry


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