Nasonov gland

honey bee, Nasonov gland

Nasonov gland (marked red) of honey bee worker. After Jacobs (1925, fig. 12a, 21b) [1], Snodgras (1956, fig. 57c) [2].
In the upper image the gland is exposed; in the lower image the gland is hidden between tergites.

The Nasonov gland is exposed by: workers forming swarm cluster [3], young workers returning from orientation flight [4], foragers at a food source [5], returning foragers when they have problem with finding the nest entrance [6], disorientated workers outside the nest [7], workers waiting at the nest entrance for queen returning from mating flight [8], worker at the nest entrance of queenless colonies [9], near larvae chosen for emergency queen rearing [10], workers in some unnatural circumstances [11].

Nasanov gland occurs only in workers, not in queens or drones.
The Nasonov gland secretion contains (accordng to [12][13][14][15]):

  1. (Z)-citral
  2. (E)-ditral
  3. nerol
  4. geraniol
  5. nerolic acid
  6. geranic acid
  7. (E,E)-farnesol

Each of the components separately is not as effective as the mixture [16].
Composition of the secretion changes with age of workers [17] and differs between winter and spring [18].

Synthetic Nasonov pheromone can be used to attract swarms to swarm traps [19][20][21][22][23][24][16], attract bees to crops for pollination [25][26][27].

Other references: [28][29][30]


  1. Jacobs W. (1924) Das Duftorgan von Apis mellifica und ähnliche Hautdrüsenorgane sozialer und solitärer Apiden. Zeitschrift für Morphologie und Ökologie der Tiere 3:1-80.
  2. Snodgrass R.E. (1956) Anatomy of the honey bee. Comstock Publishing Associates, Ithaca, pp. 334.
  3. Morse R.A., Boch R. (1971) Pheromone concert in swarming honey bees. Ann. Entomol. Soc. Amer. 64:1414-17.
  4. Hazelhoff E.H. (1941) De Luchtverversching van een Bijenkast gedurende den zomer. Maandschrift voor de Bijenteelt 44:1-16.
  5. Fernández P.C., Gil M., Farina W.M. (2003) Reward rate and forager activation in honeybees: recruiting mechanisms and temporal distribution of arrivals. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 54:80-87.
  6. Ribands C.R., Speirs N. (1953) The adaptability of the homecoming honeybee. The British Journal of Animal Behaviour 1:59–66.
  7. Sladen F.W.L. (1901) A scent organ in the bee. British Bee Journal 29:151-153.
  8. Ruttner F. (1956) The mating of the honeybee. Bee World 3:2-15, 23-24.
  9. Free J.B. (1987) Pheromones of social bees. Chapman & Hall, London, pp. 218.
  10. AL-Kahtani S.N., Bienefeld K. (2012) The Nasonov Gland Pheromone is Involved in Recruiting Honeybee Workers for Individual Larvae to be Reared as Queens. Journal of Insect Behavior 25:392-400.
  11. Butler C.G., Free J.B. (1952) The behaviour of worker honeybees at the hive entrance. Behaviour 4:262-292.
  12. Weaver N., Weaver C.C., Law J.H. (1964) The attractiveness of citral to foraging honeybees. Progress Report - Texas Agricultural Experimental Station 2324:1-7.
  13. Boch R., Shearer D.A. (1962) Identification of geraniol as the active component in the Nassanoff pheromone of the honey bee. Nature 194:704-706.
  14. Boch R., Shearer D.A. (1964) Identification of nerolic and geranic acids in the Nassanoff pheromone of the honey bee. Nature 202:320-321.
  15. Pickett J.A., Williams I.H., Martin A.P., Smith M.C. (1980) Nasonov pheromone of the honeybee Apis mellifera L. (Hymenoptera: Apidae), I. Chemical characterization. J. Chem. Ecol. 6:425-434.
  16. Schmidt J.O. (1999) Attractant or pheromone: The case of Nasonov secretion and honeybee swarms. Journal of Chemical Ecology 25:2051–2056.
  17. Boch R., Shearer D.A. (1963) Production of geraniol by honey bees of various ages. Journal of Insect Physiology 9:431–434.
  18. Pickett J.A., Williams I.H., Smith M.C., Martin A.P. (1981) Nasonov pheromone of the honeybee, Apis mellifera L. (Hymenoptera, Apidae), III. Regulation of pheromone composition and production. J. Chem. Ecol. 7:543-554.
  19. Free J.B., Pickett J.A., Ferguson A.W., Smith M.C. (1981) Synthetic pheromones to attract honeybee (Apis mellifera) swarms. Journal of Agricultural Science 97:427–431.
  20. Lesher C., Morse R.A. (1983) Baits to improve bait hive attractiveness to honey bees. Am. Bee J 123:193–194.
  21. Free J.B., Pickett J.A., Ferguson A.W., Simpkins J.R., Williams C. (1984) Honeybee Nasonov pheromone lure. Bee World 65:175-181.
  22. Kigatiira I., Beament J., Free J., Pickett J. (1986) Using synthetic pheromone lures to attract honeybee colonies in Kenya. J Apic Res 25:85–86.
  23. Schmidt J.O., Thoenes S.C. (1987) Swarm traps for survey and control of Africanized honey bees. Bull Entomol Soc Amer 33:155–158.
  24. Schmidt J.O. (1994) Attraction of reproductive honey bee swarms to artificial nests by Nasonov pheromone. Journal of Chemical Ecology 20:1053–1056.
  25. Waller G.D. (1970) Attracting honeybees to alfalfa with citral, geraniol, and anise. J. Apic. Res. 9:9-12.
  26. Waller G.D. (1973) The effect of citral and geraniol conditioning on the searching activity of honeybee recruits. J. Apic. Res 12:53-57.
  27. Williams I.H., Pickett J.A., Martin A.P. (1981) The Nasonov pheromone of the honeybee, Apis mellifera L. (Hymenoptera: Apidae), II. Bioassay of the components using foragers. J. Chem. Ecol. 7:225-237.
  28. Vecchi M.A. (1960) La glandola odoripara dell'Apis mellifica L. Bollettino dell’Istituto di Entomologia dell’Universita degli Studi Bologna 24:53-66.
  29. Free J.B., Ferguson A.W., Pickett J.A. (1983) A synthetic pheromone lure to induce worker honeybees to consume water and artificial forage. J. Apic. Res. 22:224-228.
  30. Free J.B., Ferguson A.W., Pickett J.A. (1983) Effect of the components of the Nasonov pheromone on its release by honeybees at the hive entrance. Journal of Apicultural Research 22:155-157.