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Predator presence elicits vigilance and decreases honey bee recruitment dancing /

  • Author(s): Bray, Allison
  • et al.

Predators can reduce bee pollination and decrease plant fitness through fear: prey avoiding predators. However, the effects of predator-induced fear on bee communication are poorly understood. For bees that are mass foragers, such as honey bees, the effects of fear alter individual foraging choices and colony foraging allocation through recruitment communication. Honey bees (Apis mellifera) can recruit nestmates to visit food sources, thereby amplifying the effects of their individual foraging. It was not known if honey bees would alter their foraging communication, factoring in the risk of predation, when confronted with live predators on floral-type resources. We show that the potential risk of predation from live predators, not just the evidence of recent predation, alters the dance language in an adaptive way. In this study, honey bees were given a choice of safe and dangerous feeders to determine if they would avoid praying mantises (Tenodera sinensis), a predator that bees were not previously known to avoid. Bees exhibited fear (avoidance) and significantly avoided the live mantis (at all instar sizes >̲ 4cm) and avoided mantis odor (cuticular hydrocarbon extract) and visual cues (plastic mantis). Both olfactory and visual cues were equally effective deterrents. Honey bees decreased the number of waggle dance circuits (a measure of food source quality) for a rich food patch with a live mantis, but not for a mantis-free control, which is the first demonstration that wariness of a live predator alters bee communication inside the nest and suggests that information flow within a colony plays a role in the ecology of fear

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