Naturwissenschaften

, Volume 94, Issue 6, pp 469–472

Bee-hawking by the wasp, Vespa velutina, on the honeybees Apis cerana and A. mellifera

Authors

  • K. Tan
    • Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical GardenChinese Academy of Science
    • Eastern Bee Research Institute of YunnanAgricultural University
  • S. E. Radloff
    • Department of StatisticsRhodes University
  • J. J. Li
    • Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical GardenChinese Academy of Science
    • Eastern Bee Research Institute of YunnanAgricultural University
    • Eastern Bee Research Institute of YunnanAgricultural University
    • Department of Zoology and EntomologyRhodes University
  • M. X. Yang
    • Eastern Bee Research Institute of YunnanAgricultural University
  • L. J. Zhang
    • Eastern Bee Research Institute of YunnanAgricultural University
  • P. Neumann
    • Swiss Bee Research Centre, Agroscope Liebefeld-PosieuxResearch Station ALP
Short Communication

DOI: 10.1007/s00114-006-0210-2

Cite this article as:
Tan, K., Radloff, S.E., Li, J.J. et al. Naturwissenschaften (2007) 94: 469. doi:10.1007/s00114-006-0210-2

Abstract

The vespine wasps, Vespa velutina, specialise in hawking honeybee foragers returning to their nests. We studied their behaviour in China using native Apis cerana and introduced A. mellifera colonies. When the wasps are hawking, A. cerana recruits threefold more guard bees to stave off predation than A. mellifera. The former also utilises wing shimmering as a visual pattern disruption mechanism, which is not shown by A. mellifera. A. cerana foragers halve the time of normal flight needed to dart into the nest entrance, while A. mellifera actually slows down in sashaying flight manoeuvres. V. velutina preferentially hawks A. mellifera foragers when both A. mellifera and A. cerana occur in the same apiary. The pace of wasp-hawking was highest in mid-summer but the frequency of hawking wasps was three times higher at A. mellifera colonies than at the A. cerana colonies. The wasps were taking A. mellifera foragers at a frequency eightfold greater than A. cerana foragers. The final hawking success rates of the wasps were about three times higher for A. mellifera foragers than for A. cerana. The relative success of native A. cerana over European A. mellifera in thwarting predation by the wasp V. velutina is interpreted as the result of co-evolution between the Asian wasp and honeybee, respectively.

Keywords

Apis ceranaApis melliferaCo-evolutionHoneybeePredationVespa velutina

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007