Journal of Apicultural Science

Aggressive reaction level of the honeybee (Apis mellifera L.) to smell and knock

Journal of Apicultural Science. Volume 53, Issue 1, Pages 5-16, ISSN (Print) 1643-4439
The purpose of this study was to determine aggressive reactions of bees to smells and knock stimuli. Here knock refers to a knock with a metal bar on the exit of the beehive generating trembling and sound. The study was held from April 2006 to August 2006 at the stationary apiary on 8 bees colonies. They were a cross of Carniolan bee and a local bee. The research was carried out 12 times in each colony. Each time 2 stimuli were used: smell and the knock stimuli. Three different smells were used - strong perfume, venom of the poison sac of a few worker bees of the same colony, and venom of the worker bees of the other colony. One knock stimulus was used: 3 knocks with a metal bar on the exit of the beehive. After each stimulus was applied the bees attacking the cardboard boxes placed near the exit were counted. The bee count was taken after 15, 30 and 60 seconds. The aggression level was represented in points. The points represented the amount of bees attacking the given bait. 1 point was for 0-19 bees, 2 points for 20-39 bees, 3 points for 40-69 bees and 4 points for over 70 bees. The abundance of pollen and nectar flow, working activity of bees, colony strength and weather conditions were determined as well.
The bee reaction to smell was slow. After 60 seconds it reached low level of 1.3-1.4 points. No one smell appeared to be a strong stimulus of the aggressive reaction. Stronger aggressive reactions were observed after applying the knock stimulus. The reactions reached 1.9 point (2.9 maximum). In spring or during an abundant nectar flow, the level of aggressive reactions in bee colonies were low (below 1.7 point). In a poor nectar flow period bees were more aggressive (2.4-2.5 points), and their reaction time was shortened to 15-30 seconds. High temperature and low relative humidity caused acceleration of stimuli reactions. The increase in air humidity resulted in acceleration and in an increase of bee aggression. No statistically significant differences were observed in bee reactions to smell stimuli. Statistically significant differences on pŁ0.01 level were observed when describing bee reactions to smell and knock stimuli, and when describing the level of reactions to knock stimulus in different time ranges.
honey bee, aggression, activity, aromatic stimuli, sonic-trembling stimuli
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