The flower of the oriental orchid Cymbidium floribundum is known to attract the Japanese honeybee Apis cerana japonica. This effect is observed not only in workers but also drones and queens; that is, it attracts even swarming and absconding bees. A mixture of 3-hydroxyoctanoic acid (3-HOAA) and 10-hydroxy-(E)-2-decenoic acid (10-HDA) was identified as the active principles from the orchid flower, whereas these compounds individually have no such activity. Both compounds are also mandibular gland components of worker honeybees with related compounds. This strongly supports the idea that orchid flowers mimic bee secretions, although the ecological consequences of this relationship remain unknown. Because the flower is used to capture swarms, the present identification may contribute to the development of new techniques in traditional beekeeping for Japanese bees as well as A. cerana in Southeast Asia.
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Vol. 30 • No. 2