Insectes Sociaux

, Volume 65, Issue 2, pp 331–337 | Cite as

Hissing of A. cerana japonica is not only a direct aposematic response but also a frequent behavior during daytime

  • Satoshi Kawakita
  • Kotaro Ichikawa
  • Fumio Sakamoto
  • Kazuyuki Moriya
Research Article


Hissing behavior of honey bees is simultaneous wing movement of multiple honey bees, and loud sounds or vibrations are produced from their movements. In previous the study, hissing sound of honey bees has historically been considered as an aposematic signal. This is because hissing is generally observed when disturbance occur, such as mechanical disturbance or visually disturbing stimuli like hornets approaching the colony. Few studies, however, have investigated situations in which honey bees hiss. In this study, 24-h sound recording and video monitoring were conducted to investigate when the Japanese honey bees (Apis cerana japonica) hissed and checked the external environment of the colony when they hissed. As a result, we found that A. cerana japonica hissed not only when hornets approached but also when there was no obvious threatening stimulus outside the colony. In addition, clear diurnal patterns of hissing were observed. It is still not clear whether hissing in A. cerana japonica is more than aposematic signal or not, but our findings of unique occurrence patterns of their hissing raise question about the potential function of hissing behavior in A. cerana japonica.


Honey bees Apis cerana Hissing sound Collective behavior Defensive behavior Shimmering 



We thank the Field Science Education and Research Center Kitashirakawa Experimental Station, Kyoto University, for supporting our experiments and taking care of our nest box. We also thank all those who helped with fieldwork and gave us constructive comments.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© International Union for the Study of Social Insects (IUSSI) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Satoshi Kawakita
    • 1
    • 4
  • Kotaro Ichikawa
    • 2
  • Fumio Sakamoto
    • 3
  • Kazuyuki Moriya
    • 4
  1. 1.Western Region Agricultural Research CenterNational Agriculture and Food Research OrganizationFukuyamaJapan
  2. 2.Field Science Education and Research CenterKyoto UniversityKyotoJapan
  3. 3.Department of Bioscience and Biotechnology, Faculty of Bioenvironmental ScienceKyoto Gakuen UniversityKyotoJapan
  4. 4.Graduate School of InformaticsKyoto UniversityKyotoJapan

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