Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Cyprian Honeybees Kill Their Enemy By Smothering Them

Date:
September 18, 2007
Source:
Cell Press
Summary:
For the first time, researchers have discovered that when Cyprian honeybees mob and kill their arch enemy, the Oriental hornet, the cause of death is asphyxiation.

For the first time, researchers have discovered that when Cyprian honeybees mob and kill their arch enemy, the Oriental hornet, the cause of death is asphyxiation. They reported their findings in Current Biology.

"Here, for the first time we detail an amazing defense strategy, namely asphyxia-balling, by which Cyprian honeybees mob the hornet and smother it to death," said Gérard Arnold of CNRS in Gif-sur-Yvette, France. "The domestic bee has never ceased surprising us."

Previous studies showed that Asian honeybees similarly attack hornets, leading the predatory insects to die from the heat inside the ball of bees. That murderous "thermo-balling" strategy is used against invaders, mainly hornets, armored with a hard cuticle that is impenetrable to the bees' most familiar weapon: their stingers.

However, scientists knew from earlier studies that various subspecies of the domestic honeybee (Apis mellifera), which form comparable balls around hornets, couldn't raise the temperature high enough to finish off the heat-tolerant hornets, explained the study's first author, Alexandros Papachristoforou of Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece.

It had been shown that the mobbing bees go for the gut, targeting the hornets' abdomen, which is critical for the insects' ability to breathe. By pumping their abdominal muscles, the hornets bring in air through small openings called spiracles, which are covered by structures known as tergites when air is released.

To find out whether the bees could be blocking the hornets' breathing, the researchers monitored their respiration under normal conditions and those designed to mimic the balling behavior, in which they covered either two or four of the insects' tergites. The hornets' respiration declined by about 33 and 87 percent, respectively, in these experiments.

Next, they tested whether the bees could kill hornets whose tergites were held open with tiny plastic blocks. They found that the bees took twice as long to kill such manipulated hornets.

"To kill the high-temperature-tolerant hornet, Cyprian honeybees have developed an alternate strategy to thermo-balling and stinging," Arnold said. "They appear to have identified the hornets' 'Achilles heel' by asphyxiating the predator. This ability indicates that under extreme conditions, honeybees can present a high level of adaptation in order to survive."

The researchers include Alexandros Papachristoforou, Andreas Thrasyvoulou, Georgia Zafeiridou, and George Theophilidis of Aristotle University of Thessaloniki; Agnès Rortais, Lionel Garnery, and Gérard Arnold of Laboratoire Evolution, Génomes, Spéciation, CNRS UPR9034.

This work was partly supported by the bilateral program ZENON, the Research Promotion Foundation of Cyprus and the Greek program HERAKLEITOS (EPEAEK).

Reference: Papachristoforou et al.: "Smothered to death: Hornets asphyxiated by honeybees." Publishing in Current Biology, 18 September 2007, R705-R796. 


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Cell Press. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Cell Press. "Cyprian Honeybees Kill Their Enemy By Smothering Them." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 September 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/09/070917120612.htm>.
Cell Press. (2007, September 18). Cyprian Honeybees Kill Their Enemy By Smothering Them. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 16, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/09/070917120612.htm
Cell Press. "Cyprian Honeybees Kill Their Enemy By Smothering Them." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/09/070917120612.htm (accessed September 16, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Some Tobacco Farmers Thrive Amid Challenges

Some Tobacco Farmers Thrive Amid Challenges

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) — The South's tobacco country is surviving, and even thriving in some cases, as demand overseas keeps growers in the fields of one of America's oldest cash crops. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Given Rare Glimpse of 350-Kilo Colossal Squid

Scientists Given Rare Glimpse of 350-Kilo Colossal Squid

AFP (Sep. 16, 2014) — Scientists say a female colossal squid weighing an estimated 350 kilograms (770 lbs) and thought to be only the second intact specimen ever found was carrying eggs when discovered in the Antarctic. Duration: 00:47 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) — Squid experts in New Zealand thawed and examined an unusual catch on Tuesday: a colossal squid. It was captured in Antarctica's remote Ross Sea in December last year and has been frozen for eight months. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Conservationists Face Uphill PR Battle With New Shark Rules

Conservationists Face Uphill PR Battle With New Shark Rules

Newsy (Sep. 14, 2014) — New conservation measures for shark fishing face an uphill PR battle in the fight to slow shark extinction. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

      Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:  

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile iPhone Android Web
      Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins