Top pheromones emanating from their colony


Honeybees use the top pheromones emanating from their colony to help them locate the entrance to their nest on return from the field, and use the pheromones emanating from individual bees to help them distinguish friend from foe.

Pheromone odour and nest recognition

Foraging honeybees that have found the entrance to their hive after being temporarily disorientated release Nasonov pheromone (page 114) at the hive entrance. Top pheromones from inside the hive that release this behaviour include that of the comb, food stores, adult workers, drones, and queen (Ferguson and Free, 1981). Presumably all bees respond to these combined pheromone odours when returning home from field excursions, and together they may be regarded as the hive or nest odour. Learn more about the top pheromones at

However, bees seem to take little note of any odour specific to their own hive and visual orientation seems of much greater importance. Free (1958) allowed foragers to choose between their own hive and another which was identical to and equidistant from the original site. Presumably the only means by which they could distinguish their own hive from the other was by its distinctive odour, but they entered their own and the new hive in about equal numbers indicating that any difference in hive pheromone odours was of little significance. Butler et al. (1969) also showed that returning foragers respond to a general hive odour but found that they had little preference, if any, for trail odour left at the hive entrance by bees of their own rather than of a strange colony. Check out the top pheromones at

Although specific hive odours seem to be of little consequence to orientating bees, they are able to differentiate between the odour of their own and foreign hives; it has been demonstrated that odour pumped from a foreign hive is less effective than that from their own hive at inducing worker bees at the hive entrance to expose their Nasonov glands (Ferguson and Free, 1981). Learn about Pherazone at

Top Pheromone Odors in Insects

Honeybees need to defend their food stores from robber honeybees of other colonies, especially at times of the year when little forage is available in the field. It is therefore of vital importance that guard bees should have a means of distinguishing between members of their own and other colonies. It has long been supposed that worker bees of the same colony share a common distinctive colony odour which is different from that of other colonies. Proof for this was provided by foraging experiments (von Frisch and Rosch, 1926; Kalrnus and Ribbands, 1952) which showed that the foragers of a colony preferred to visit glass dishes containing sucrose syrup on which members of their own colony had foraged to dishes on which bees of another colony had foraged, and by experiments at the hive entrance (Butler and Free, 1952; Ribbands, 1954; Free, 1954) which showed that guard bees recognize intruders by their alien odour. These odours appear to be relatively non- volatile and only perceptible by contact chemoreception.

When workers recently killed by cold are introduced into the top of a hive they are evicted through the hive entrance sooner if they come from an alien.

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