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Honeybee Ecology: A Study of Adaptation in Social Life

Honeybee Ecology: A Study of Adaptation in Social Life

Copyright Date: 1985
Pages: 212
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  • Book Info
    Honeybee Ecology: A Study of Adaptation in Social Life
    Book Description:

    The book presents honeybees as a model system for investigating advanced social life among insects from an evolutionary perspective.

    Originally published in 1985.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5787-6
    Subjects: Zoology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-2)
    Thomas D. Seeley
  4. 1 Introduction
    (pp. 3-8)

    The honeybee is a wonderful example of adaptation. In this it resembles all forms of life, but because it is an extremist its adaptations are striking. The honeybee’s waggle dance, with which forager bees share information about the locations of new patches of flowers, is unsurpassed among animal communication systems in its capacity for coding precise yet flexible messages. Honeybee workers display an extraordinarily elaborate division of labor by age, switching their labor roles at least four times as they grow older. When a honeybee colony needs a new home, several hundred scout bees comb some 100 square kilometers of...

  5. 2 Honeybees in Nature
    (pp. 9-19)

    The origins and evolution of the genusApiscan be discussed with fair confidence, a consequence of the outstanding richness of the honeybee’s fossil record. Many fossils are so beautifully preserved in amber or shale that they can be examined as modern specimens (Zeuner and Manning 1976, Culliney 1983). The earliest bees in the genusApisare known from fossils uncovered in Germany and France dating from the early Oligocene, about 35 million years ago (Fig. 2.1). Whether these earliestApisformed societies or lived solitarily is a mystery. However, some signs point to sociality inA. armbrusteri, a honeybee...

  6. 3 The Honeybee Societies
    (pp. 20-38)

    The fundamental social structure of a honeybee colony is that of a matriarchal family. At the heart of each colony lies one long-lived female, the queen, who is the mother of the thirty thousand or so members of a typical colony. Approximately 95 percent of each queen’s offspring are workers, daughters which never mate and never lay any eggs so long as their mother is alive (Jay 1968, 1970). Instead, they help their mother survive and reproduce, performing all tasks in the colony except the production of eggs. The other 5 percent of a queen’s offspring develop into sexual reproductives—...

  7. 4 The Annual Cycle of Colonies
    (pp. 39-48)

    One key to understanding the ecology of honeybees living in cold climates is the unique annual cycle of their colonies. In winter, when colonies of the other social bees (bumblebees and social sweat bees) have dwindled away, leaving only a residue of fertilized females deep in hibernation, honeybee colonies continue to thrive as true social groups, each one maintaining a labor force of some fifteen thousand workers. Moreover, rather than entering chilly dormancy, as is the rule for insects in cold climates, honeybee colonies resist the cold, regulating the temperature of the colony perimeter above about 10°C even in ambient...

  8. 5 Reproduction
    (pp. 49-70)

    Several of the knottier puzzles in the biology of honeybees emerge upon considering the evolution of their patterns of reproduction. Here we seek to understand, for example, how natural selection favors the immensely skewed (in favor of males) sex ratio, the multiple-year lifespan of queens, and the size and number of swarms produced annually by a colony. The difficulty in understanding such patterns stems primarily from the twin facts that honeybees live in and reproduce through colonies comprising thousands of individuals, yet natural selection operates mainly at the level of individual colony members. Thus, on the one hand, we expect...

  9. 6 Nest Building
    (pp. 71-79)

    In many animal species, especially certain birds, rodents, and social insects, individuals carefully choose a particular microhabitat in which to build nests and rear offspring (Lack 1968, von Frisch 1974). Such behavior has major adaptive significance since it can help ensure refuge from harsh physical conditions, an adequate food supply, and protection from predators. Honeybees provide an example of an extremely sophisticated process of nest-site selection. No fewer than seven distinct properties of a potential home site—including cavity volume, entrance size, distance from the parent nest, and presence of combs from an earlier colony—are independently assessed to produce...

  10. 7 Food Collection
    (pp. 80-106)

    Foraging by honeybees is a social enterprise, one in which the 10,000 or so foragers in a colony work together closely in finding and exploiting rich sources of nectar and pollen. One key to understanding this system of group foraging is recognizing that it is designed to achieve high efficiency for the colony as a whole, not for each individual forager. This curious fact is most apparent when a forager performs behaviors which reduce her personal rate of food collection but which boost her nestmates’ intake rates and so enhance the colony’s overall foraging efficiency. The clearest example of such...

  11. 8 Temperature Control
    (pp. 107-122)

    Precise control of nest temperature can be regarded as one of the major innovations in honeybee biology made possible by the evolution of their societies. From late winter to early autumn, the annual period of brood rearing by honeybees, the temperature in the central, nursery region of each colony’s nest is stabilized between 33° and 36°C, averaging about 34.5°C and usually varying by less than 1°C across a day (Hess 1926, Himmer 1927, Dunham 1929). The high thermal stability of the broodnest area is perhaps most strikingly illustrated by the extreme temperature sensitivity of honeybee brood, which has adapted to...

  12. 9 Colony Defense
    (pp. 123-137)

    The honeybee’s defenses against predators and parasites are awesomely diverse. There exist the expected mechanisms of defense: protective nest sites, guard bees at the nest entrance, venomous stings, disposal of diseased brood, and massive counterattacks synchronized by alarm pheromones. But to this list we must add other, often subtle, and sometimes even bizarre techniques: specialist “undertaker” bees, enzymatic generation of hydrogen peroxide in ripening honey, varnishing of the nest interior with fungicidal and bactericidal plant resins, filtration of disease spores from food, genetic systems for discriminating nestmates from outsiders, and still others.

    One approach to gaining perspective on this intricate...

  13. 10 Behavioral Ecology of Tropical Honeybees
    (pp. 138-160)

    The previous seven chapters of this book have summarized the behavioral ecology of one species of honeybee,Apis mellifera, as it lives in temperate regions of the world. We have seen that this insect survives in cold climates through many unique adaptations in colony cycle, reproductive process, and techniques of nest building, temperature control, foraging, and colony defense. Throughout this discussion we have been primarily concerned with the refinements in the bees’ social behavior which foster survival in a seasonally harsh environment. This view of honeybee behavioral ecology, however, skirts a major portion of the total subject, namely, the ecology...

  14. Literature Cited
    (pp. 161-192)
  15. Author Index
    (pp. 193-196)
  16. Subject Index
    (pp. 197-201)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 202-202)