Free Access
Volume 39, Number 3, May-June 2008
Page(s) 302 - 309
Published online 27 February 2008
Apidologie 39 (2008) 302-309
DOI: 10.1051/apido:2008001

Predator-prey interaction between drones of Apis mellifera carnica and insectivorous birds

Martin H. Kärcher1, 2, Peter H.W. Biedermann1, 3, Norbert Hrassnigg1 and Karl Crailsheim1

1  Institut für Zoologie, Karl-Franzens Universität Graz, Universitätsplatz 2, 8010 Graz, Austria
2  Laboratory of Apiculture & Social Insects, Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, S10 2TN, England
3  Institut für Verhaltensökologie, Universität Bern, Wohlenstraße 50a, 3032 Hinterkappelen, Switzerland

Received 23 January 2007 - Revised 22 November 2007 - Accepted 26 November 2007 - Published online 27 February 2008

Abstract - Large offers of food usually do not remain unexploited in nature. For that reason several mechanisms have evolved to counteract predation, such as congregating in masses or producing a repellent substance. We investigated whether drones are preyed upon in any specific way by two swallow species, Hirundo rustica or Delichon urbica, in their drone congregation areas. Our results clearly showed that the birds preyed upon drones extremely sporadically and not in a specific way. Hence, the results have decisive consequences for apiculture, especially for the evolution of drone accumulation in congregation areas.

Key words: Apis mellifera / queen losses / drone congregation area / swallow / predation

© INRA, DIB-AGIB, EDP Sciences 2008