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Bee Mobbing

A Franco-Greek team recently observed collective defensive behavior of a new type in Cyprian honeybees: asphyxia-balling.1 By surrounding and blocking respiratory openings and abdominal movements of hornets, they manage to asphyxiate their predator. This defensive “mob,” which may count anywhere between 150 and 300 bees against a single hornet attacking the hive, can get rid of this type of predator whose hard cuticles are resistant to their stings. It had previously been reported that Asian honeybees killed hornets by “thermo-balling”–crowding together on their foe to form a ball in which the temperature becomes lethal.

bee mobing

Cyprian honeybees use “asphyxia-balling” to smother this intruding hornet.


 

 

 

 

Notes :

1. A. Papachristoforou et al., Current Biol. 17: R795-R796. 2007.

Contacts :

Gérard Arnold, gerard.arnold@legs.cnrs-gif.fr


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