The silent dances of the Himalayan honeybee, Apis laboriosaW.H. Kirchnera, C. Drellerb, A. Grassera and D. Baidyac
a Universität Konstanz, Fakultät für Biologie, 78434 Konstanz, Germany
b Department of Entomology, University of California, Davis, CA 95616, USA
c Department of Biology, Kathmandu University, Kathmandu, Nepal
Abstract - Comparative studies of the mechanisms of information transfer in the dance language of honeybees have recently led to an evolutionary scenario, assuming that acoustic signals replace visual communication signals in species that are forced to communicate in the dark, either because of nesting in dark cavities like Apis mellifera and Apis cerana or because of nocturnal activity like Apis dorsata. To test this idea, the dance language of the giant honeybee Apis laboriosa, which is closely related to Apis dorsata, but exclusively diurnal, was studied. We observed the dances, determined the flight range and recorded and analyzed acoustic signals emitted by worker bees. The dances of this species do not contain any acoustic signals, indicating that acoustic signalling of the location of food sources is indeed restricted to species which need to dance under low light intensities. The evolutionary implications are discussed.
Key words: communication / sound / Asian honeybee / Apis laboriosa