Bumble bees are of major importance, ecologically and economically as pollinators in cool and temperate biomes and as model organisms for scientific research. Chemical signals and cues have been shown to play an outstanding role in intraspecific and interspecific communication systems within and outside of a bumble bee colony. In the present review we compile and critically assess the literature on the chemical ecology of bumble bees, including cuckoo bumble bees. The development of new and more sensitive analytical tools and improvements in sociogenetic methods significantly enhanced our knowledge about chemical compounds that mediate the regulation of reproduction in the social phase of colony development, about the interactions between host bumble bees and their social parasites, about pheromones involved in mating behavior, as well as about the importance of signals, cues and context-dependent learning in foraging behavior. Our review intends to stimulate new studies on the many unresolved questions concerning the chemical ecology of these fascinating insects.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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