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Behavioural characteristics of honey bee (Apis mellifera) colonies containing mix of workers of divergent behavioural traits

Jerzy Paleolog
Department of Biological Basis of Animal Production University of Life Sciences in Lublin, Akademicka 13, 20-950 Lublin, Poland
Abstract :

Defence behaviour (sting test), hygienic behaviour (needle test) and syrup foraging rate were
studied in honey bee (Apis mellifera) colonies artificially made up of defensive and gentle bees (1:1), and were compared with homogenous colonies made up only of either defensive or gentle bees. The defensive bees turned out to be high-hygienic whereas the gentle bees were low-hygienic. The mixed colonies were defensive in terms of time to the first sting, but gentle or intermediate in terms of the number of stings. Colonies of mixed high-hygienic (defensive) and low-hygienic (gentle) bees were found to be intermediate or high-hygienic when they were monitored after a period of 12 or 24 h, respectively. Foraging rate was also markedly differentiated in homogenous colonies. The colonies with a mixture of good and poor foragers exhibited a poor foraging rate. Repeatability of the monitored traits was higher in the 100% defensive/high-hygienic colonies (higher genetic effect) than in 100% gentle/low-hygienic colonies. Efficient workers performed tasks by themselves and did not solicit help from non-efficient workers. Results of combining of different bee types occurred different. Interworker interactions were mostly non-additive for foraging and defensive behaviour, but additive for hygienic behaviour.

Keywords :
Apis mellifera / defensive behaviour / foraging rate / honey bee / hygienic behaviour/ worker interactions / mixed colonies

Date Deposited : 04 Aug 2011 13:36

Last Modified : 04 Aug 2011 13:36

Official URL:

Volume 27, Number 3, - 2009

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