jm + honeybees   1

TIL: bananas contain the primary compound in the honeybee's "alarm" pheromone
Science helps us explain the phenomena. Turns out bananas contain a compound called isoamyl acetate (also known as isopentyl acetate) – the very same as that which is in honeybees’ alarm pheromone. Pure banana oil (used in emollients, perfumes, and to broaden the flavored milk range) is nothing but this colorless liquid ester, occasionally mixed with other chemicals. While bees’ alarm pheromone isn’t just isoamyl acetate – in fact there are over 40 compounds in the cocktail – it is the main active component.

Guard bees, who patrol the entrance, and stinger bees, who comprise the militia, are the two castes within the hive most likely to release the pheromone. Both of these are worker bees (i.e. female) around 2-3 weeks old – the time it takes for their endocrine system to reach its prime. The scent – excreted from the Koschevnikov gland and other glands around the sting shaft – is released either when the bee pops out its stinger (like a cat retracting its claws), or goes full kamikaze and harpoons the mouse, robber bee or luckless human, rear-end first (inevitably dying in the assault). Having volatile properties, the ester evaporates and disperses rapidly from the origin point of the bee’s butt, making it suitable as a swift communication carrier. Once registered, it alerts the colony to the presence of an intruder or threat, lifting their aggro, and effectively coordinating an en masse defensive response. Any stray, lingering waft of a banana about you, then, will trigger a similar reaction (if slightly less intense). Don’t put too much faith in your smoker to avail you either.
bees  honeybees  science  pheromones  fruit  bananas  factoids 
9 days ago by jm

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