War Dance of the Honeybee

One species has developed a novel waggle to warn about invading wasps.

Karl Gruber
Feb 1, 2018

FLOWER POWER: A Japanese Apis cerana worker bee brings a petal to the hive.AYUMI FUJIWARA


The paper
A. Fujiwara et al., “First report on the emergency dance of Apis cerana japonica, which induces odorous plant material collection in response to Vespa mandarinia japonica scouting,” Entomol Sci, doi:10.1111/ens.12285, 2017.

The Waggle Dance
Honeybees are famous for their waggle dances—figure-eight boogies that foragers use to inform nestmates about the locations of food or water. But entomologists were unclear about whether the dances could also be used to help ensure colony safety.

Unwelcome Guests
Ayumi Fujiwara, a graduate student at the University of Tokyo, and colleagues simulated wasp attacks on hives of the Japanese honeybee (Apis cerana japonica) to test the bees’ response to danger.  “Giant wasps attack the nests of honeybees to feed their brood in autumn. As a result, wasps may sometimes annihilate...