Insectes Sociaux

, Volume 57, Issue 3, pp 251–255 | Cite as

Interspecific and conspecific colony mergers in the dwarf honey bees Apis andreniformis and A. florea

  • S. Wongvilas
  • S. Deowanish
  • J. Lim
  • V. R. D. Xie
  • O. W. Griffith
  • B. P. Oldroyd
Research Article


The dwarf honey bees Apis florea and A. andreniformis are sympatric in southeast Asia. We translocated eight A. florea colonies and four A. andreniformis colonies to an orchard near Sai Yoke, Thailand. After 2 days, we dequeened half of the colonies. Microsatellite genotyping showed that a queenless A. florea colony merged with a queenright A. florea colony, and a queenless A. andreniformis colony merged with a queenright A. florea colony. The inter-specific merger in particular shows that colonies can combine without direct kin benefits, and that colony mergers probably arise through strong queen attraction.


Inclusive fitness Hamilton’s rule Colony amalgamations 



We thank Madeleine Beekman for comments on this manuscript. The work was supported by an Australian Research Council grant to M. Beekman and B. Oldroyd and by the TRF/BIOTEC Special Program for Biodiversity Research and Training, grant BRT R251137.

Supplementary material

40_2010_80_MOESM1_ESM.docx (25 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 25.4 kb)


  1. Beekman M. and Oldroyd B.P. 2008. When workers disunite: Intraspecific parasitism in eusocial bees. Annu. Rev. Entomol. 53: 19–37CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Boomsma J.J. 2007. Kin selection versus sexual selection: why the ends do not meet. Curr. Biol. 17: R673–R683CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Breed M.D., Deng X.-B. and Buchwald R. 2007. Comparative nestmate recognition in Asian honey bees, Apis florea, Apis andreniformis, Apis dorsata, and Apis cerana. Apidologie 38: 411–418CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Brian M.V. 1986. Bonding between workers and queens in the ant genus Myrmica. Anim. Behav. 34: 1135–1145CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Chapman N.C., Beekman M. and Oldroyd B.P. 2009a. Worker reproductive parasitism and drift in the Western honeybee Apis mellifera. Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol. (in press)Google Scholar
  6. Chapman N.C., Higgs J.S., Wattanachaiyingcharoen W., Beekman M. and Oldroyd B.P. 2009b. Worker reproductive parasitism in naturally orphaned colonies of the Asian red dwarf honey bee, Apis florea. Insect. Soc. (in press)Google Scholar
  7. Chapman N.C., Nanork P., Gloag R.S., Wattanachaiyingcharoen W., Beekman M. and Oldroyd B.P. 2009c. Queenless colonies of the Asian red dwarf honey bee (Apis florea) are infiltrated by workers from other queenless colonies. Behav. Ecol. 20: 817–820CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Engel M.S. 1999. The taxonomy of recent and fossil honey bees (Hymenoptera: Apidae; Apis). J. Hymen. Res. 8: 165–196Google Scholar
  9. Estoup A., Garnery L., Solignac M. and Cornuet J.-M. 1995a. Microsatellite variation in honey bee (Apis mellifera L.) populations: Hierarchical genetic structure and tests of the infinite allele and stepwise mutation models. Genetics 140: 679–695PubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Estoup A., Scholl A., Pouvreau A. and Solignac M. 1995b. Monandry and polyandry in bumble bees (Hymenoptera: Bombinae) as evidenced by highly variable microsatellites. Mol. Ecol. 4: 89–93CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Estoup A., Solignac M. and Cornuet J.-M. 1994. Precise assessment of the number of patrilines and of genetic relatedness in honey bee colonies. Proc. R. Soc. Lond B 258: 1–7CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Foitzik S. and Heinze J. 1998. Nest site limitation and colony takeover in the ant Leptothorax nylanderi. Behav. Ecol. 9: 367–375CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Godzinska E.J. 1989. Extra-colony altruism in the bumblebees: misbehaviour or adaptation? Actes Coll. Insectes Soc. 5: 161–167Google Scholar
  14. Halling L.A., Oldroyd B.P., Wattanachaiyingcharoen W., Barron A.B., Nanork P. and Wongsiri S. 2001. Worker policing in the bee Apis florea. Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol. 49: 509–513CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Hamilton W.D. 1964. The genetical evolution of social behaviour. I & II. J. Theor. Biol. 7: 1–52CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Hamilton W.D. 1972. Altruism and related phenomena, mainly in social insects. Annu. Rev. Ecol. Syst. 3: 193–232CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Higgs J.S., Wattanachaiyingcharoen W. and Oldroyd B.P. 2009. A scientific note on a genetically-determined colour morph of the dwarf honey bee, Apis andreniformis (Smith, 1858). Apidologie 40: 513–514CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Hughes W.O.H., Oldroyd B.P., Beekman M. and Ratnieks F.L.W. 2008 Ancestral monogamy shows kin selection is key to the evolution of eusociality Science 320:1213–1216Google Scholar
  19. Jones J.C., Nanork P. and Oldroyd B.P. 2007. The role of genetic diversity in nest cooling in a wild honey bee, Apis florea. J. Comp. Physiol. A 193: 159–165CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Kaminski L.A., Slessor K.N., Winston M.L., Hay N.W. and Borden J.H. 1990 Honeybee response to queen mandibular pheromone in laboratory bioassays. J. Chem. Ecol. 16: 841–850CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Kasuya E. 1981. Internidal drifting of workers in the Japanese paper wasp Polistes chinensis antennalis (Vespidae, Hymenoptera). Insect. Soc. 28: 343–346CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Kellner K., Barth B. and Heinze J. 2010. Colony fusion causes within-colony variation in a parthenogenetic ant. Behav. Ecol Sociobiol. (in press)Google Scholar
  23. Ken T., Mingxian Y., Radloff S.E., Pirk C.W.W., Crewe R.M., Phiancharoen M., Hepburn R. and Oldroyd B.P. 2009. Worker reproduction in mixed-species colonies of honey bees. Behav. Ecol. 20: 1106–1110CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Koeniger N. and Koeniger G. 2000. Reproductive isolation among species of the genus Apis. Apidologie 31: 313–339CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Kronauer D.J.C., Schöning C., d’Ettorre P. and Boomsma J.J. 2009. Colony fusion and worker reproduction after queen loss in army ants. Proc. R. Soc. 277: 755–763Google Scholar
  26. Lopez-Vaamonde C., Koning J.W., Brown R.M., Jordan W.C. and Bourke A.F.G. 2004. Social parasitism by male-producing reproductive workers in a eusocial insect. Nature 430: 557–560CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Nanork P., Paar J., Chapman N.C., Wongsiri S. and Oldroyd B.P. 2005. Asian honey bees parasitize the future dead. Nature 437: 829CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. Nanork P., Wongsiri S. and Oldroyd B.P. 2007. Preservation and loss of the honey bee (Apis) egg-marking signal across evolutionary time. Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol. 61: 1509–1514CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Neumann P., Pirk C.W.W., Hepburn H.R. and Radloff S.E. 2001. A scientific note on the natural merger of two honeybee colonies (Apis mellifera capensis). Apidologie 32: 113–114CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Neumann P., Radloff S.E., Pirk C.W.W. and Hepburn H.R. 2003. The behaviour of drifted Cape honeybee workers (Apis mellifera capensis): predisposition for social parasitism? Apidologie 34: 585–590CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. O’Donnell S. 1992. Time-sharing, drifting, and pilfering: inter-nest activities of Polybia occidentalis foragers. Sphecos 23: 4Google Scholar
  32. Oldroyd B.P. and Beekman M. 2008. Effects of selection for honey bee worker reproduction on foraging traits. PLoS Biol. 6: e56 doi:  10.1371/journal.pbio.0060056 Google Scholar
  33. Oldroyd B.P., Clifton M.J., Wongsiri S., Rinderer T.E., Sylvester H.A. and Crozier R.H. 1997. Polyandry in the genus Apis, particularly Apis andreniformis. Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol. 40: 17–26CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Oldroyd B.P., Gloag R.S., Even N., Wattanachaiyingcharoen W. and Beekman M. 2008. Nest site selection in the open-nesting honeybee Apis florea. Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol. 62: 1643–1653CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Oldroyd B.P., Smolenski A.J., Cornuet J.-M., Wongsiri S., Estoup A., Rinderer T. and Crozier R.H. 1995. Levels of polyandry and intracolonial genetic relationships in Apis florea. Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol. 37: 329–335CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Oldroyd B.P. and Wongsiri S. 2006. Asian Honey Bees. Biology, Conservation and Human Interactions. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA. 340 ppGoogle Scholar
  37. Palmer K.A. and Oldroyd B.P. 2001. Mating frequency in Apis florea revisited (Hymenoptera: Apidae). Insect. Soc. 48: 40–43CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Pfeiffer K.J. and Crailsheim K. 1999 The behaviour of drifted nurse honey bees. Insect. Soc. 46:34–40CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Rinderer T.E., Oldroyd B.P., Wongsiri S., Potichot S., Sheppard W.S. and Buchmann S. 1993. Time of drone flight in four bee species in south-eastern Thailand. J. Apic. Res. 32: 27–33Google Scholar
  40. Rinderer T.E., Wongsiri S., Kuang B., Liu J., Oldroyd B.P., Sylvester H.A. and de Guzman L. 1996. Comparative nest architecture of the dwarf honey bees. J. Apic. Res. 35: 19–26Google Scholar
  41. Roubik D.W. 1981. A natural mixed colony of Melipona (Hymenoptera: Apidae). J. Kans. Ent. Soc. 54: 263–268Google Scholar
  42. Slessor K.N., Kaminski L.A., King G.G.S., Borden J.H. and Winston M.L. 1988. Semiochemical basis of the retinue response to queen honey bees. Nature 332: 354–356CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Solignac M., Mougel F., Vautrin D., Monnerot M. and Cornuet J.-M. 2007. A third-generation microsatellite-based linkage map of the honey bee, Apis mellifera, and its comparison with the sequence-based physical map. Gen. Biol. 8: R66. doi: 10.1186/gb-2007-8-4-r66)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Sumner S., Lucas E., Barker J. and Isaac N. 2007. Radio-tagging technology reveals extreme nest-drifting behavior in a eusocial insect. Cur. Biol. 17: 140–145CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Tan K., Yang M., Radloff S.E., Yu Y., Pirk C.W.W. and Hepburn H.R. 2009. Intra- and interspecific brood recognition in pure and mixed-species honeybee colonies, Apis cerana and A. mellifera. Apidologie 40: 184–191CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Vargo E.L. 1999. Reproductive development and ontogeny of queen pheromone production in the fire ant Solenopsis invicta. Physiol. Entomol. 24: 370–376CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Wattanachaiyingcharoen W., Wongsiri S. and Oldroyd B.P. 2008. Aggregations of unrelated Apis florea colonies. Apidologie 39: 531–536CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Wongvilas S., Higgs J.S., Beekman M., Wattanachaiyingcharoen W., Deowanish S. and Oldroyd B. 2010. Lack of inter-specific parasitism between the dwarf honeybees Apis andreniformis and A. florea. Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol. (in press)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© International Union for the Study of Social Insects (IUSSI) 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. Wongvilas
    • 1
  • S. Deowanish
    • 1
  • J. Lim
    • 2
  • V. R. D. Xie
    • 2
  • O. W. Griffith
    • 2
  • B. P. Oldroyd
    • 2
  1. 1.Center of Excellence in Entomology: Bee Biology, Biodiversity of Insects and Mites, Department of BiologyChulalongkorn UniversityBangkokThailand
  2. 2.School of Biological Sciences A12University of SydneySydneyAustralia

Personalised recommendations