Bee Talk

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In this activity, learners smell bottles containing bee pheromone molecules (or herb/spice extracts as a substitute). Bees release these molecules to send messages to each other. The pheromones smell like bananas, lemon, blue cheese, fruit or nothing to us. But to a bee they mean something quite different. Learners can match the molecule pictures on the smell bottles with the pictures in the accompanying booklet, to discover what each smell means to a bee. [Activity is publicly available through a web crawler capture on]

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Learning Time:
30 to 45 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$5 - $10 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 11 - 18

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity


Materials List (per group of students)

  • 4 squeeze Bottles
  • one drop of undiluted citral (can also use lemon essence)
  • one drop of undiluted 2-heptanone (heptan-2-one)
  • one drop of undiluted isoamyl acetate (isopentyl acetate) (can also use banana essence)
  • one empty bottle
  • herb/spice extracts (as substitute)


  • Life Sciences
    • Diversity of Life
      • Animals
    • Human Senses and Perception
      • Smell
  • Physical Sciences
    • Chemistry
      • Chemical Reactions
      • Chemistry of Life

Informal Categories

  • Animals


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • smell

Learning styles supported:

  • Uses STEM to solve real-world problems
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Access Rights:

  • Free access


Source Collection

  • Pfizer Foundation Biochemistry Discovery Lab


  • All rights reserved, New York Hall of Science, 2001

Funding Sources:

  • Pfizer Foundation
  • National Science Foundation, 9814954
  • The Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation, Inc.