Social encapsulation of beetle parasites by Cape honeybee colonies (Apis mellifera capensis Esch.)
- Cite this article as:
- Neumann, P., Pirk, C., Hepburn, H. et al. Naturwissenschaften (2001) 88: 214. doi:10.1007/s001140100224
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Worker honeybees (Apis mellifera capensis) encapsulate the small hive beetle (Aethina tumida), a nest parasite, in propolis (tree resin collected by the bees). The encapsulation process lasts 1–4 days and the bees have a sophisticated guarding strategy for limiting the escape of beetles during encapsulation. Some encapsulated beetles died (4.9%) and a few escaped (1.6%). Encapsulation has probably evolved because the small hive beetle cannot easily be killed by the bees due to its hard exoskeleton and defensive behaviour.