Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Fear of predators drives honey bees away from good food sources

Date:
October 2, 2013
Source:
University of California - San Diego
Summary:
Honey bees live in a world filled with danger in which predators seize them from the sky and wait to ambush them on flowers. Such fear drives bees to avoid food sources closely associated with predators and, interestingly, makes colonies of bees less risk-tolerant than individual bees, according to a new study.

The smaller hornet studied by the researchers attacks a honeybee forager on a flower.
Credit: Ken Tan

Most of us think of honey bees as having a bucolic, pastoral existence -- flying from flower to flower to collect the nectar they then turn into honey. But while they're capable of defending themselves with their painful stings, honey bees live in a world filled with danger in which predators seize them from the sky and wait to ambush them on flowers.

Such fear drives bees to avoid food sources closely associated with predators and, interestingly, makes colonies of bees less risk-tolerant than individual bees, according to a study published in this week's issue of the open-access journal PLOS ONE.

"This strategy of colonies collectively exhibiting significantly more caution than the riskier individual foragers may help honey bees exploit all of the available food sources, with some intrepid foragers visiting more dangerous food while the colony judiciously decides how to best allocate its foraging," says James Nieh, a professor of biology at UC San Diego.

Nieh worked with scientists at Yunnan Agricultural University in China to study the impact on foraging Asian honey bees of the monstrous-looking Asian Giant hornet, Vespa tropica, and a smaller hornet species known as Vespa velutina, which has invaded Europe and now poses a threat to European honey bees.

"The Asian Giant hornets are dangerous, heavily armored predators," says Ken Tan, the first author of the paper, who also works at the Chinese Academy of Science's Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden. "Bee colonies respond by forming balls of defending bees, encasing the hornet and, in some cases, cooking it to death with heat generated by the bees."

The researchers found that bees treated the bigger hornet species, which is four times more massive than the smaller species, as more dangerous. In a series of experiments, they presented bees with different combinations of safe and dangerous feeders -- depending on their association with the larger or smaller hornets -- containing varying concentrations of sucrose.

"Bees avoided the dangerous feeders and preferred feeders that provided sweeter nectar," says Nieh. "However, predators are clever and can focus on sweeter food, ones which bees prefer. So we also tested how bees would respond when sweeter food was also more dangerous. What we found was that the individual bees were more risk-tolerant. They avoided the giant hornet at the best food, but continued to visit the lower quality food with the smaller hornet."

Other scientists involved in the research were Zongwen Hu, Weiwen Chen, Zhengwei Wang and Yuchong Wang, all of the Eastern Bee Research Institute of Yunnan Agricultural University.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of California - San Diego. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Ken Tan, Zongwen Hu, Weiwen Chen, Zhengwei Wang, Yuchong Wang, James C. Nieh. Fearful Foragers: Honey Bees Tune Colony and Individual Foraging to Multi-Predator Presence and Food Quality. PLoS ONE, 2013; 8 (9): e75841 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0075841

Cite This Page:

University of California - San Diego. "Fear of predators drives honey bees away from good food sources." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 October 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131002141155.htm>.
University of California - San Diego. (2013, October 2). Fear of predators drives honey bees away from good food sources. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131002141155.htm
University of California - San Diego. "Fear of predators drives honey bees away from good food sources." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131002141155.htm (accessed July 21, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Monday, July 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

San Diego Zoo Welcomes New, Rare Rhino Calf

San Diego Zoo Welcomes New, Rare Rhino Calf

Reuters - US Online Video (July 21, 2014) An endangered black rhino baby is the newest resident at the San Diego Zoo. Sasha Salama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Shark Sightings a Big Catch for Cape Tourism

Shark Sightings a Big Catch for Cape Tourism

AP (July 21, 2014) A rise in shark sightings along the shores of Chatham, Massachusetts is driving a surge of eager vacationers to the beach town looking to catch a glimpse of a great white. (July 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
$23.6 Billion Awarded To Widow In Smoking Lawsuit

$23.6 Billion Awarded To Widow In Smoking Lawsuit

Newsy (July 20, 2014) Cynthia Robinson claims R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company hid the health and addiction risks of its products, leading to the death of her husband in 1996. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
A Centuries' Old British Tradition Is Far from a Swan Song

A Centuries' Old British Tradition Is Far from a Swan Song

AFP (July 19, 2014) As if it weren't enough that the Queen is the Sovereign of the UK and 15 other Commonwealth realms, she is also the owner of all Britain's unmarked swans. Duration: 02:18 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:
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