Bees change scent as they age

How Bees Recognize Nestmates from Washington University in STL on Vimeo.

By in | March 4, 2019

New research on honey bees offers insight into how these social insects recognize each other. The study published February 5, 2019, in the journal eLife reports that honey bees (Apis mellifera) develop different scent profiles as they age, and the guard bees at the hive’s door respond in a different way to returning foragers than they do to younger bees who have never ventured out.

Most bee researchers have thought that bees recognize and respond to a scent that is the homogenized scent of all of the members of their own colony, as is the case with some ants and other insects. It was thought that honey bees got that scent by rubbing up against their nest-mates, transferring compounds between each other. Cassondra L. Vernier, a graduate student at Washington University, is first author of the new study. 

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