You must have hugged a friend and thought about how lovely he/she smelled…or you must have absolutely detested a person for his/her scent. How about being attracted by the scent of a man who you met and had a coffee with? Or by the scent of a woman when you nestled your face in her bosom? Do you appreciate the scent of a colleague you work with? Or sit as far away on the table from the person who smells weird? Read on to know what scents are and how they are important.
Chemosensory communication has always been relevant and important in the behaviour of organisms. Organisms as primitive as bacteria have been shown to have chemotactic behaviour where they sense the source of food and move towards that. We also witness evidences of chemosensory communication in higher organisms like cats and dogs on a day to day basis. We see dogs marking territories with their pee (this one is weird, I agree!) and cats marking their possessions by leaving their scent on objects when they rub against them.
Pheromones…the chemicals produced by an organism to induce a specific kind of response from its fellows. Sex pheromones induce a sexual attraction, aggregation pheromones induce the behaviour to stick together, alarm pheromones initiate defense or flight. Have you ever observed a trail of ants? Each ant walking along the exact track as the one before? Yep – pheromones!
We, like many of these organisms also are attracted to our mates (well ‘partners’, if you want to sound more evolved!) by their scent. The anatomical sites of secretion of these pheromones include scalp, genitals, chest/breasts, armpits and skin in general. If your partner smells particularly attractive to you, you may actually be a great biological match for each other. You can also identify your kin by merely smelling clothes they may have used to some point.
I have been interested in the behaviour of bees for quite some time now. And I came across some really interesting facts on bee pheromones. It seems that if a queen ever feels threatened by the worker bees in her colony, she releases a pheromone with her feces that works to repel the other bees from her. Bees have also been shown to use their pheromones to mark sources of food by scouts, for marking sites of building a new hive (in cases where they have to evacuate the parent hive – this does happen…one known case of this happening is when a hive accidentally has two queens!), for gathering swarms during a flight, etc. Every colony of bees seems to have its unique pheromone.
The most exciting piece of information for me was this…The Queen produces what is called the Queen Mandibular Pheromone (QMP). She produces this to attract drones to mate during the mating flight, to suppress the reproductive systems of the worker bees in the colony ensuring thus that she is the only active reproductive female in the entire colony and to maintain overall harmony in the colony as if to say “she’s very much alive and there!”
What do you think of this? The Queen Bee is very much the Queen, eh?
Can you identify your kin by smelling their clothes?
Leave your comments below with exciting bee behaviour facts if you know any.