Article: article from journal or magazin.
Effect of "spraying" by fighting honey bee queens (Apis mellifera L.) on the temporal structure of fights
To reproduce, social insect colonies rear sexual progeny, and young queens start a new colony either without (independently) or with the help of workers (dependently). When colony reproduction is dependent and young queens are produced in excess, conflicts are predicted to occur. Honey bee colonies reproduce dependently by swarming. The mother queen leaves with a Óprime swarmÓ before daughter queens reach adulthood. More queens are produced than can obtain sufficient worker force, and emerging queens often fight to death. Surviving queen(s) inherit the established nest or a portion of workers which then depart in an ÓafterswarmÓ. Honey bee queens show numerous adaptations for fighting and conflict with other queens, such as early venom production and fast development. During fights one queen often releases rectal fluid. The function of this ÓsprayingÓ behaviour is unclear. Previous studies have reported that it can both attract and repel workers, and observations that it also interrupts fights. Possible functions of spraying are to affect worker intervention in fights, act as a chemical weapon, or lower worker attention towards contaminated queens. We staged fights between 24 queen pairs to investigate the temporal pattern of behaviour in spraying and non-spraying fights. Spraying occurred in 67% of the fights. In the majority of spraying fights (87%) it occurred upon physical contact. Spraying fights were characterized by significantly lower proportion of escalated aggression and a significantly shorter first escalated bout. This provides quantitative evidence that spraying interrupts fights and suggests that its function is to directly provide a temporary respite to queens.
Last modification date