Anti-predator Fan-blowing in Guard Bees, Apis mellifera capensis Esch
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Honeybees employ different defensive strategies depending on the nature of potential predators. The Cape honeybee, Apis mellifera capensis, exhibits a unique fan-blowing behaviour to repel ants and similar sized insects at the nest entrance. Guard bees turn in alternating clockwise and anticlockwise circles on a fixed vertical axis and fan their wings when encountering tramp ants (Pheidole megacephala), aphids (Myzus persicae) and termites (Trinervitermes trinovoides) on the landing board of a hive. The blowing force was constant and was driven by fanning with a wing-beat frequency of 274.8 ± 16.3 Hz, which exceeds that of flight. On the contrary, small hive beetles (Aethina tumida) were removed by mauling and expulsion whereas larvae of the greater waxmoth (Galleria mellonella) and the mealworm (Tenebrio molitor) were seized with mandibles and thrown from the nest area.
KeywordsApis mellifera capensis predators fan-blowing wing-beat frequency
M.Yang acknowledges financial support by Rhodes University and Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Science, and Yunnan Agricultural University. H. Robertson kindly identified the ants and B. Price advised on the wing-beat frequency measurements.
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