Piping & Quacking

One of Morris Ostrofsky's students made these recordings. It is in several formats so everyone should be able to listen. For more information you can click on the link at the bottom of this page.

Some notes on different sound formats:

MP3 is a high quality format that most people should be able to play but the file size is quite large (2.8mb), so be sure you have some time if you have a slow connection.

WMA is a Windows compatible format that is also quite large (2.8mb).

I recommend right clicking on the MP3 and WMA format's and saving to your hard drive so you will have a permanent copy of it and won't have to download it again.

This sound file is known as track 3. At about 1:40 of the recording there is a toot and quack. Listen carefully to distinguish the sounds.

This sound file is known as track 6. From 0:00 to 0:40 are several quacks and at 1:14 is a good toot!

Description of Queen Piping


Behavioral Context: Queens produce piping signals only during the first few days of their life.

Types of Piping:

The term “piping” refers to two unique signals that differ in their acoustic properties,

 A "toot" is produced by a queen that has emerged from her cell and is moving freely within the nest.

 A "quack" is produced by a queen that has pupated into an adult, but remains imprisoned in her cell.

Mechanism of Production: A queen produces piping signals by pressing her thorax to the comb of the nest and rapidly contracting her thoracic flight muscles. Her wings are disengaged from the flight musculature during piping and thus move very little.

Signal Function: The functions of these signals are not known. Tooting may warn imprisoned queens of the tooter’s presence while quacks produced in response to toots may alert workers to protect an imprisoned queen from her rival.

Acoustic Properties:

Toot: Typical duration: 5 sec single long syllable followed by several short syllables. fundamental frequencies from 350 - 550 Hz

Quack: Typical duration: more than 10 sec long, series of short syllables.

fundamental frequencies from 200 - 350 Hz


Information Source: BioNB 424, CORNELL UNIVERSITY, ITHACA, NY