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Thread: Queen Pheromone

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    Vancouver, BC, Canada
    Posts
    60

    Post

    Does anyone know what units pheromone is expressed in? For example, we often say that younger queens have stronger pheromone than older queens; is this in ppm or some other units? As well, what type of volumes correspond to these units, ie. 50ppm vs 500ppm?

    Just wondering

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2001
    Location
    New York City
    Posts
    3,401

    Post

    Yes, one could take a sample of air and run it
    through a gas chromatograph or HPLC/MS, and
    measure the relative amounts per unit volume of
    air, which works out to parts per million,
    billion, maybe even trillion.

    Pheromones are "volatile organic compounds", so
    they would be tricky to measure. You'd likely
    need portable gear, or need to bring the queen
    to the gear.

    But some pheromones from the queen don't work as
    a "scent in the air". The pheromones that keep
    workers from developing ovaries, and perhaps other
    specific pheromones, were found to be transmitted
    by touch (workers licking the queen, touching,
    etc) those bees then spread the pheromone by
    contact to other bees.

    There are several good (but highly technical)
    books on pheromones out there, perhaps the
    best being "Pheromones of Social Bees" by
    John B. Free.

    About the best estimates of the minimum pheromone
    levels required to "work" have been arrived at by
    taking synthetic analogs to the various
    pheromones, and either touching them directly to
    workers who don't have a queen, or letting a
    volume of the chemicals act as an "air freshener"
    for a group of test bees.

    If the pheromone "works", you have "enough".
    If not, you may need more, or you may not have
    provided the correct MIX of the different known
    pheromones. (Often it takes multiple pheromones
    to get the detectable behavior one is looking for.)

    I don't know if anyone has done the work to come
    up with either measurements from queens directly,
    or a calculation based upon the amounts of
    pheromone one must "apply" to get a detectable
    response for this or that, but I do know that
    the bees are quite emphatic about older queens. [img]smile.gif[/img]

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