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 October 22, 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 October 22, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Cadaver Dogs Aid Search for More Victims of Suspected Indiana Serial Killer

Cadaver Dogs Aid Search for More Victims of Suspected Indiana Serial Killer

Reuters - US Online Video (Oct. 21, 2014) — Police in Gary, Indiana are using cadaver dogs to search for more victims after a suspected serial killer confessed to killing at least seven women. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
White Lion Cubs Unveiled to the Public

White Lion Cubs Unveiled to the Public

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Oct. 21, 2014) — Visitors to Belgrade zoo meet a pair of three-week-old lion cubs for the first time. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Cadaver Dog' Sniffs out Human Remains

'Cadaver Dog' Sniffs out Human Remains

AP (Oct. 21, 2014) — Where's a body buried? Buster's nose can often tell you. He's a cadaver dog, specially trained to find human remains and increasingly being used by law enforcement and accepted in courts. These dogs are helping solve even decades-old mysteries. (Oct. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
White Lion Cubs Born in Belgrade Zoo

White Lion Cubs Born in Belgrade Zoo

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) — Two white lion cubs, an extremely rare subspecies of the African lion, were recently born at Belgrade Zoo. They are being bottle fed by zoo keepers after they were rejected by their mother after birth. Duration: 00:42 Video provided by AFP
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

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