Free access
Volume 23, Number 4, 1992
Page(s) 311 - 322
Apidologie 23 (1992) 311-322
DOI: 10.1051/apido:19920405

Diurnal and seasonal variation in defensive behavior of African bees Apis mellifera adansonii in Ghana

J. Woyke

FAO Representation, Accra and Technology Consultancy Centre of Kumasi University, Ghana

Abstract - The defense behavior of an African bee colony was studied in order to determine recommendations for handling A m adansonii bees (when and how) without being stung. The number of stings left in a leather ball suspended 50 cm in front of the hive entrance for 1 min was therefore counted as well as the number of workers returning to the hive over a 5-min period. A typical pattern of diurnal defensive behavior was observed. During the non-productive period, ie the summer rainy season, one peak of defensive behavior was observed in the morning. During the period of honey flow, ie the winter dry season, 2 peaks occurred, one early in the morning and the other late in the evening. A highly positive correlation existed between flight activity and defensive behavior. The bees stung less during periods of low flight activity. Bees in front of the entrance defended the colony more than those flying out from the combs. During the period of honey flow (the winter dry season), the bees stung about 4 times more frequently than during the summer rainy season. The ratio of the number of stinging bees to that of flying bees is a better indicator for comparison of potential defensive behavior of different colonies than that of the absolute number of stings. It is recommended that handling of A m adansonii take place during periods of low flight activity.

Key words: Apis mellifera adansonii / defensive behavior / activity rhythm / flight activity / Ghana