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Isoamyl acetate, a bee army?

  1. Jan 3, 2004 #1
    My class had done an experiment synthesizing isoamyl acetate, but MY class didn't actually get to do it. haa. You see the other classes in the same section did it but the power went out and we weren't able to do it. Anyways, that's enough fro mr. pointless. SO, as I recall from the outline isoamyl acetate was banana flavour or something. Very disappointing that I wasn't able to do the experiment. ANyway, I also read on the internet (off a particular organic chemistry site) that isoamyl acetate was a honey bee pheromone (at least I think it was a pheromone) that bees give off as a chemical signal when they're in danger. And it attracts more bees to the site, the site didn't mention anything about banana so I'm not sure whether or not I believe that it was this particular chemical. Anyway, maybe somebody could clear that up.
    Assuming that this chemical is the bee signal, do you think that I could build some kind of bee army as a result. Not seriously, but you get the implication. Would I be able to summon the bees for my bidding?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 3, 2004 #2
    yeah it's used to attract bees to a previously stung spot, so if it's on your skin and there are a bunch of bees around, run :wink:.

    also the synthesis itself is kind of boring so you didn't really miss much.
  4. Jan 3, 2004 #3
    I remember this lab from my undergraduate days. I thought it smelled pretty good so I didn't wash it off when I spilled some on my hands. But I had forgotten why esters don't get used in the perfume industry. The oil on your skin is acidic enough to hydrolyze the ester back to the Fisher adducts, which in this case is isopentyl alcohol and acetic acid. It was a stinky ride home on the unfortunately crowded bus.
  5. Jan 4, 2004 #4
    How close do the bees have to be?
    How long does it take for the ester to decompose? Assuming it isn't on someones skin but is instead, let's say, scattered on the grass or something. Would it attract bees to the spot?
  6. Jan 4, 2004 #5
    From what I have read it is a panic pheromone, it wouldn't necessarily attract bees, just agitate them. On the skin it takes ten to twenty minutes to start stinking. Probably considerably longer on the grass. It's the same stuff that gives banana their taste/scent.
  7. Jan 5, 2004 #6
    I see.
    So my dreams of a bee army aren't looking very good.
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