Apidologie

, Volume 43, Issue 2, pp 195–200 | Cite as

Cooperative wasp-killing by mixed-species colonies of honeybees, Apis cerana and Apis mellifera

  • Ken Tan
  • Ming-Xian Yang
  • Zheng-Wei Wang
  • Hua Li
  • Zu-Yun Zhang
  • Sarah E. Radloff
  • Randall Hepburn
Original article

Abstract

The cooperative defensive behaviour of mixed-species colonies of honeybees, Apis cerana and Apis mellifera, were tested against a predatory wasp, Vespa velutina. When vespine wasps hawk honeybees at their nest entrances, the difference in the numbers of bees involved in heat-balling among pure species and mixed-species colonies was not significantly different. However, in the mixed colonies, the numbers of A. cerana and A. mellifera workers involved in heat-balling were significantly different. The duration of heat-balling among these three groups was significantly different. During heat-balling, guard bees of both species in mixed colonies raised their thoracic temperatures and the core temperatures of the heat-balls were about 45°C, which is not significantly different from that of the pure species. These results suggest that the two species of honeybees can cooperate in joint heat-balling against the wasps, but A. cerana was more assertive in such defence.

Keywords

cooperation defensive behaviour mixed species Apis cerana Apis mellifera 

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Copyright information

© INRA, DIB-AGIB and Springer-Verlag, France 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ken Tan
    • 1
    • 2
  • Ming-Xian Yang
    • 2
    • 3
  • Zheng-Wei Wang
    • 2
  • Hua Li
    • 2
  • Zu-Yun Zhang
    • 2
  • Sarah E. Radloff
    • 4
  • Randall Hepburn
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Tropical Forest Ecology, Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical GardenChinese Academy of SciencesJinghongPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Eastern Bee Research Institute of YunnanAgricultural UniversityKunmingPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.Department of Zoology and EntomologyRhodes UniversityGrahamstownRepublic of South Africa
  4. 4.Department of StatisticsRhodes UniversityGrahamstownRepublic of South Africa

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