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Why Don't Honey Bees Revolt?

It's good to be queen. Consider the queen bee, whose attendants feed and groom her all day and caress her lovingly with their antennae. It turns out that the queen's pheromones actually create this love fest. The queen bee's intoxicating scent gets transferred to her subjects throughout the colony, keeping all those in the bee working class loyal and calm.

Researchers in New Zealand have also determined that this scent, which is heavy with a chemical called homovanillyl alcohol, or HVA, prevents worker bees from developing aversions. This means that undergoing a negative experience around the queen won't create a palace revolt.

More about bee behavior:

  • HVA, one of many compounds coating the queen's body, has a striking chemical similarity to dopamine.
  • The queen's pheromones also block ovary development in worker bees.
  • Older bees don't tend to the queen as much as young ones. They're more interested in the search for nectar.
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