Free access
Volume 35, Number 1, January-February 2004
Page(s) 15 - 24
Apidologie 35 (2004) 15-24
DOI: 10.1051/apido:2003061

Genotypic effects of honey bee (Apis mellifera) defensive behavior at the individual and colony levels: the relationship of guarding, pursuing and stinging

Ernesto Guzmán-Novoaa, b, Greg J. Huntc, José L. Uribe-Rubioa, b and Daniel Prieto-Merlosb

a  INIFAP, Santa Cruz 29B Fracc., Las Hdas., Metepéc 52140, Méx, Mexico
b  Depto. Esp. no Tradicionales: Abejas. Fac. Med. Vet. y Zoot., UNAM. Ciudad Universitaria, 04510, México, DF, Mexico
c  Department of Entomology, Purdue University, West Lafayette IN 47907-1158, USA

(Received 9 April 2003; revised 4 June 2003; accepted 19 June 2003)

We analyzed the relationships of the guarding, stinging, pursuing and alarm pheromone responses of two types of bees: European (EHB) and Africanized honey bees (AHB). Single type (source colonies) and two-type (EHB and AHB co-fostered) colonies were used. Of co-fostered bees, AHB comprised 81% of those that stung during the first 10 s. But from 10 to 30 s, AHB and EHB were equally likely to sting. However, when tested in their own colonies, two of the three EHB types did not sting and did not pursue in any of the eight trials conducted, whereas all three AHB types did in all trials. Moreover, AHB represented 90% of bees that stung observers during an 18-day observation period (25% of which were recently seen guarding). There was a relationship between pursuing and stinging of the six source colonies and the guarding behavior of co-fostered individuals from those sources. Results suggest that the more defensive bee types guard longer and may affect the thresholds of response of less defensive bees, recruiting them to sting. Results also suggest that the individual performance of different defensive tasks cause interactions that result in increased colony response.

Key words: Apis mellifera / genotypic effects / guarding behavior / Africanized bees / defensive behavior

Correspondence and reprints: Ernesto Guzmán-novoa,

© INRA, EDP Sciences, DIB, AGIB 2004