Free Access
Volume 36, Number 4, October-December 2005
Page(s) 505 - 511
Apidologie 36 (2005) 505-511
DOI: 10.1051/apido:2005036

Reinforcing a barrier - a specific social defense of the dwarf honeybee (Apis florea) released by the weaver ant (Oecophylla smaragdina)

Orawan Duangphakdeea, Nikolaus Koenigerb, Gudrun Koenigerb, Siriwat Wongsiria and Sureerat Deowanisha

a  Center of Excellence in Entomology: Bee Biology, Biodiversity of Insects and Mites, Department of Biology, Faculty of Science, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok 10330, Thailand
b  Institut für Bienenkunde (Polytechnische Gesellschaft), Fachbereich Biologie und Informatik der J.W. Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main, Karl-von-Frisch-Weg 2, 61440 Oberursel, Germany

(Received 23 November 2004 - revised 17 January 2005 - accepted 17 January 2005; Published online: 13 September 2005)

Abstract - In the arboreal habitat of Apis florea one of the dominant insectivorous predators is the weaver ant, Oecophylla smaragdina. The main mechanism of A. florea to protect its nest against ants and other crawling arthropods are "barriers" of sticky material (sticky bands) which the bees build around the branches and all structures which connect the comb to the outside. We studied whether the presentation of an O. smaragdina ant on the comb releases a specific behavioral response of the bees. After the exposure of a living O. smaragdina worker, held by a forceps on the top of the A. florea comb, the number of bees at the sticky band zone increased and remained on higher level for 2 hours compared to control experiments (presentation of an empty forceps, Tenebrio molitor larva or another arboreal ant species, Crematogaster rogenhoferi). Further, more sticky material was deposited by the bees after exposure of a weaver ant. This behavior seems to be a specific reaction of A. florea to its most important predator O. smaragdina.

Key words: Apis florea / Oecophylla smaragdina / colony defense / predator-prey relationship / Crematogaster rogenhoferi

Corresponding author: Nikolaus Koeniger

© INRA, DIB-AGIB, EDP Sciences 2005