Free access
Volume 38, Number 5, September-October 2007
Page(s) 411 - 418
Published online 03 August 2007
Apidologie 38 (2007) 411-418
DOI: 10.1051/apido:2007025

Comparative nestmate recognition in Asian honey bees, Apis florea, Apis andreniformis, Apis dorsata, and Apis cerana

Michael D. Breeda, b, Xiao-Bao Dengb and Robert Buchwalda

a  EBIO CB 334, University of Colorado, Boulder, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, CO 80309-0334, USA
b  Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Menglun, Mengla, Yunnan 66303, P.R. China

(Received 11 August 2006 - Revised 17 February 2007 - Accepted 19 February 2007 - Published online 3 August 2007)

Abstract - In nestmate recognition bioassays, Apis florea, A andreniformis, A. dorsata and A. cerana do not exhibit aggressive responses. These negative results were obtained using three distinct techniques: pairings of bees between colonies, switching nest box locations (A. cerana only), and treatment with compounds known to serve as nestmate recognition pheromones in A. mellifera. This is in sharp contrast to previously observed responses in A. mellifera, which displays strong aggressive responses to conspecific non-nestmates in the same types of bioassays. A. cerana expresses nestmate recognition, but only under limited circumstances - when robbing is precipitated by honey harvesting or the merger of colonies by a beekeeper. Our results suggest that robbing of stored food may be more characteristic of A. mellifera than other species in the genus Apis, and consequently A. mellifera displays a more strongly developed response to conspecific non-nestmates than other Apis species.

Key words: nestmate recognition / Apis / defensive behavior

© INRA, DIB-AGIB, EDP Sciences 2007