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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Bees (Chapter 14)

Authors
item PETTIS, JEFFERY
item Pankiw, Tanya - UNIVERSITY OF CALF. DAVIS
item Plettner, Erika - LASH MILLER LAB. CANADA

Submitted to: Insect Pheromones International Symposium Proceedings
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: May 22, 1998
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Most bees use chemical signals or pheromones to communicate and scientist have had found ways to use these pheromones to manipulate bee behavior. This book chapter entitled "Bees" describes the pheromones of bees, their biological role in bee communication, and their potential for use in agriculture. The bees discussed include solitary bees such as the leafcutter and blue orchard bee, along with social bees such as bumblebees and honey bees. Honey bees and bumblebees use a wider variety of signals than do solitary bees. Identification of a pheromone is the first step. We then look to understand how bees use the pheromone and how we might use the same signal in our management or manipulation of bees. Some of these manipulations have involved using artificial queen attractants on blooming crops to attract honey bees for pollination. While the use of pheromones to date has been limited, the potential exists for widespread use in the future as our understanding of bee chemical communication continues to grow. Scientist, Integrated Pest Management personnel and those involved in pollination should find this review helpful in detailing what is currently known and where potentials exist in the use of pheromones to enhance bee management and increase pollination.

Technical Abstract: Bees use pheromones to chemically communicate a variety of messages. This review chapter describes the current identification and understanding of chemical communication in bees; especially bees used for pollination. Additionally, the uses to date and potential uses of pheromones in agriculture are discussed. Honey bees and bumblebees have been studied in some detail and are used worldwide for pollination. Generally the social bees use a more complex set of chemical signals than do the solitary bees which often only use a sex or aggregation pheromone. Thus, the potential to use pheromones to manipulate honey bees and bumblebees is perhaps greater than for solitary bees such as Osmia and Megachile. Crop sprays with pheromones have been tried with honey bees and they continue to be tested. Additionally, in the near future we may see the use of brood pheromones to prolong the life of annual bumblebee colonies and to stimulate honey bee colonies for pollination. The use of bee pheromones is in its infancy; this chapter provides the background for continued research and development in the use of bee pheromones in agriculture.

Last Modified: 9/29/2014
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