Chiara Antoniacomi

Do you smell bees?

Honey bees emit an odour that even human can smell

No matter if you like exotic fruits or not, we have all eaten a banana during our life. And strangely enough, honey bees are able to produce a smell that strongly resembles the fruit.


Bees on Honeycomb - Picture by  Jean Beaufort

Yes, it is all true! 

Honey bees produce scented hormones (also known as pheromones) and some of these are detectable for our nose thanks to their highly volatility. 

One of these hormones is called the “alarm pheromone” and it is made of a lot of chemical compounds, including one that naturally occurs in banana oil. The chemical compound has a strong, penetrating odour resembling both banana and ripe pear and it is commonly used as a banana flavour agent both in food and perfumes. 


Bananas -

While in our world the smell of banana will make your mouth water or your stomach rumble, for bees it literally means: “hurry up and sting!”

This alarm pheromone is released by several glands on the bees’ sting and functions as a beacon to attract other bees around. As a consequence, it induces them to behave defensively and makes them sting the poor victim of the attack.

So basically, if loads of bees are stinging a surface on the same time...the environment will smell like bananas!



Bees on the hive -

Are you wondering what is the moral of this story? Don’t eat bananas next to a bee hive unless you want to be attacked!