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Mass spectral identification of the tergal gland secretions of female castes of two African honey bee races (Apis mellifera)

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Journal of Apicultural Research
Vol. 38 (3-4) pp. 137-148
Date
December 1999
 
Article Title

Mass spectral identification of the tergal gland secretions of female castes of two African honey bee races (Apis mellifera)

Author(s)

Theresa C Wossler; Robin M Crewe

Abstract
The tergal gland secretions in queens, workers and pseudoqueens of Apis mellifera capensis and Apis mellifera scutellata are composed of longchain fatty acids, long-chain esters and a linear series of unsaturated hydrocarbons. The cuticular extracts, on the other hand, consisted of a linear series (C23-C31) of saturated hydrocarbons and were shown to be identical for both A. m. capensis and A. m. scutellata queens and workers. The major compound in the tergal gland secretion for all test groups, was (Z)-9-octadecenoic acid. Virgin queens are distinguishable from mated queens (P = 0.0001) and workers (P = 0.0001) in that they secrete a series of long-chain esters, the predominant ester being decyl decanoate. A. m. capensis workers differed significantly (P = 0.0001) from A. m. capensis mated queens, as did pseudoqueens (P = 0.001), in their tergal gland secretion profiles. Significant inter-racial differences were found between the tergal gland secretions of mated queens (P = 0.0001) and workers (P = 0.001) from the two contiguous African races, but not between the virgin queens (P = 0.39). Consequently, mated queens and workers of these two African races can be separated on their tergal gland secretion profiles.
Keywords

tergal gland secretions, pheromones, 9-octadecenoic acid, alkanes, alkenes, esters, fatty acids, Apis mellifera scutellata, Apis mellifera capensis, female castes, gas chromatography, mass spectrometry

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