The Nasonov Pheromone

The Nasonov gland at the tip of the honey bee’s abdomen releases a pheromone that helps foraging bees orient themselves to the hive. The pheromone was so thick in the air today, I could smell it an arm’s length from the hives. I took plenty of photos.


The bees will hold their ground, stick their butts in the air and beat their wings like crazy. The top entrances were blocked with bees cranking out the Nasonov pheromone today.

The pheromone probably has other purposes, but I can’t remember them at the moment. It could be used to signal alarm, but our bees were not alarmed today. They were crawling all over my toasty warm appendages and loving it. Here’s another bee scenting away:

My backyard thermometer was reading 17°C at one point (63°F), but I don’t believe that. But it was definitely the warmest day we’ve had this year and the bees from both hives were out in full force. Here’s a fuzzy young bee hanging out on the bottom board, sitting there beating her wings like there’s no tomorrow:

The sound of the bees scenting was intense, like the sound of tiny little chain saws. I’ll post some video of it later.

If this weather keeps up, the snow will soon be gone and I might be able to begin feeding the bees by next weekend. I love seeing them spring into action like this. I could stay out and watch them all day.

P.S.: Nasonov is sometimes spelled Nasanov. Tomato, potato. Let’s call the whole thing off. Also: They could be fanning to ventilate the hive. However, judging from the strong smell of pheromones in the air and how many of them were fanning with their bodies bent in areas and at angles that probably wouldn’t create a current inside the hives, orientation scenting seems just as likely. But who knows.

4 thoughts on “The Nasonov Pheromone

  1. Great blog, nice to have so many videos and photos of your beautiful ladies. What would you say the Nasonov pheromone smells like, do you think lemony?

    Best wishes

    Emily

  2. What would you say the Nasonov pheromone smells like, do you think lemony?

    That’s a good question. I’m sure I could find analysis of the odour through Google, but personally, I can’t tell. It seems different the alarm pheromone. Beyond that, I’m not sure. I’ll have to give it a good whiff the next time I see them going at it.

    It snowed today. Uuuuuh.

  3. Emily, I just checked out your blog. It’s interesting to see the differences between UK and North American beekeeping techniques. I see that your spring comes earlier than ours too. But otherwise, I think your weather is similar to what we experience in Newfoundland. Wet.

    P.S.: Newfoundland is not part of the US. We’re Canadian. A significant portion of Newfoundland’s population sounds like they’re from Ireland. The Queen is on our money. We use the metric system. We spell ‘colour’ good and proper with a U just like you. That’s definitely not American. Come on!

  4. Hi Philip.

    Er, that’s embarrassing! Thanks for pointing this out to me, as you can see I have rubbish geographical skills. I’ve corrected my link :)

    We seem to be having a spell of unusually hot weather at the moment, sunshine and temperatures of 20C, but I’m sure the April showers will return soon enough. We’re unlikely to have snow this late though, respect to you and your bees for getting through such conditions!

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