Abstract Reliable retention of olfactory learning following a 1-trial classical conditioning of the proboscis extension reflex (PER) is not achieved in honeybees until they are 6–7 days old. Here we show that treatment of newly emerged honeybees with juvenile hormone (JH) has a profound effect on the maturation of short-term olfactory memory. JH-treated individuals display excellent short-term (1 h) memory of associative learning at times as early as 3 days of age and perform consistently better than untreated bees for at least the first week of their lives. By contrast, the retention of long-term (24 h) memory following a 3-trial conditioning of the PER is not significantly improved in JH-treated bees. Our study also shows that experience and (or) chemosensory activation are not essential to improve learning performance in olfactory tasks. The lack of accelerated development of long-term retention of olfactory memories in JH-treated honeybees is discussed in the context of neural circuits suspected to mediate memory formation and retrieval in the honeybee brain.