TitleStructural and temporal dynamics of the bee curtain in the open-nesting honey bee species, Apis florea
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsBhagavan H, Muthmann O, Brockmann A
Date Published02/2016

Workers of open-nesting honey bee species form a bee curtain to cover the comb and protect it against adverse environmental conditions and predators. We studied different aspects of structural and temporal dynamics of the bee curtain in Apis florea. First, in the course of daily observations, we discovered massed flight activity (MFA) of A. florea colonies similar to that previously described for A. dorsata. The MFAs started with the opening of gaps in the curtain and appearance of chains of bees shortly before the massed take off. Second, monitoring the worker movement patterns in the outer layer indicated a constant turnover of bees in the curtain. Finally, introduction of marked 1-day-old workers showed that workers joined the curtain at a very young age. First flight activity appeared around day 20, but the majority of workers started to fly after day 47, which is twice the age at which A. mellifera workers start to forage.