Heat-balling wasps by honeybees

Abstract

Defensiveness of honeybee colonies of Apis cerana and Apis mellifera (actively balling the wasps but reduction of foraging) against predatory wasps, Vespa velutina, and false wasps was assessed. There were significantly more worker bees in balls of the former than latter. Core temperatures in a ball around a live wasp of A. cerana were significantly higher than those of A. mellifera, and also significantly more when exposed to false wasps. Core temperatures of bee balls exposed to false wasps were significantly lower than those exposed to V. velutina for both A. cerana and for A. mellifera. The lethal thermal limits for V. velutina, A. cerana and A. mellifera were significantly different, so that both species of honeybees have a thermal safety factor in heat-killing such wasp predators. During wasps attacks at the hives measured at 3, 6 and 12 min, the numbers of Apis cerana cerana and Apis cerana indica bees continuing to forage were significantly reduced with increased wasp attack time. Tropical lowland A. c. indica reduced foraging rates significantly more than the highland A. c. cerana bees; but, there was no significant effect on foraging by A. mellifera. The latency to recovery of honeybee foraging was significantly greater the longer the duration of wasp attacks. The results show remarkable thermal fine-tuning in a co-evolving predator–prey relationship.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1

References

  1. Alexander B (1991) A cladistic analysis of the genus Apis. In: Smith DR (ed) Diversity in the Genus Apis. Westview Press, Boulder

    Google Scholar 

  2. Esch H (1960) Über die Körpertemperaturen und den Wärmehaushalt von Apis mellifica. Z Vergl Physiol 43:305–335

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Free JB (1987) Pheromones of social bees. Chapman and Hall, London

    Google Scholar 

  4. Heinrich B (1979) Thermoregulation of African and European honeybees during foraging. J Exp Biol 80:217–229

    Google Scholar 

  5. Ken T, Wang JM (2004) Reduction of foraging activity by A. cerana colonies attacked by Vespa velutina. J Bee 2:7–9

    Google Scholar 

  6. Kastberger G, Stachl R (2003) Infrared imaging technology and biological applications. Behav Res Methods Instrum Comput 35:429–439

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  7. Koeniger N, Fuchs S (1973) Sound production as colony defence in Apis cerana. Proc Int IUSSI Congr 7:199–204

    Google Scholar 

  8. Qun L (2001) Bee disease and pest control. Apiculture in China, pp 583–658

  9. Matsuura M, Sakagami SF (1973) A bionomic sketch of the giant hornet, Vespa mandarinia, a serious pest for Japanese apiculture. J Fac Sci Hokkaido Univ VI 19:125–162

    Google Scholar 

  10. Michelsen A (1998) Biophysics of sound localization in insects. In: Hoy RR, Popper AN, Fay RR (eds) Comparative hearing: insects. Springer Handbook of Auditory Research, p 18–62

  11. Ono M, Okada I, Sasaki M (1987) Heat production by balling in the Japanese honeybee, Apis cerana japonica as a defensive behavior against the hornet, Vespa simillima xanthoptera (Hymenoptera: Vespidae). Experientia 43:1031–1032

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Sakagami SF (1960) Preliminary report on the specific difference behaviour and the other ecological characters between European and Japanese honeybee. Acta Hymenopterol 1:171–198

    Google Scholar 

  13. Sen Sarma M, Fuchs S, Werber C, Tautz J (2002) Worker piping triggers hissing for coordinated colony defence in the dwarf honeybee Apis florea. Zoology 105:215–223

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  14. Stabentheiner A (1996) Thermische Aggression im Bienenvolk. Verhandlungen der Deutschen Zoologischen Gesellschaft 89.1:297

    Google Scholar 

  15. Stabentheiner A, Kovac H, Schmarranzer S (2002) Honeybee nestmate recognition: The thermal behaviour of guards and their examinees. J Exp Biol 205:2637–2642

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to H. R. Hepburn.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Ken, T., Hepburn, H.R., Radloff, S.E. et al. Heat-balling wasps by honeybees. Naturwissenschaften 92, 492–495 (2005). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00114-005-0026-5

Download citation

Keywords

  • A. cerana
  • A. mellifera
  • Foraging
  • Defense
  • Balling temperature
  • Hornet
  • Vespa velutina