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Giant honeybees (Apis dorsata) mob wasps away from the nest by directed visual patterns.

Kastberger G, Weihmann F, Zierler M, Hötzl T - Naturwissenschaften (2014)

Bottom Line: In particular, the concerted action of shimmering behaviour is known to effectively confuse and repel predators.The findings give evidence that shimmering honeybees utilize directional alignment to enforce their repelling power against preying wasps.This phenomenon can be identified as predator driving which is generally associated with mobbing behaviour (particularly known in selfish herds of vertebrate species), which is, until now, not reported in insects.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Zoology, University Graz, Graz, Austria, gerald.kastberger@uni-graz.at.

ABSTRACT
The open nesting behaviour of giant honeybees (Apis dorsata) accounts for the evolution of a series of defence strategies to protect the colonies from predation. In particular, the concerted action of shimmering behaviour is known to effectively confuse and repel predators. In shimmering, bees on the nest surface flip their abdomens in a highly coordinated manner to generate Mexican wave-like patterns. The paper documents a further-going capacity of this kind of collective defence: the visual patterns of shimmering waves align regarding their directional characteristics with the projected flight manoeuvres of the wasps when preying in front of the bees' nest. The honeybees take here advantage of a threefold asymmetry intrinsic to the prey-predator interaction: (a) the visual patterns of shimmering turn faster than the wasps on their flight path, (b) they "follow" the wasps more persistently (up to 100 ms) than the wasps "follow" the shimmering patterns (up to 40 ms) and (c) the shimmering patterns align with the wasps' flight in all directions at the same strength, whereas the wasps have some preference for horizontal correspondence. The findings give evidence that shimmering honeybees utilize directional alignment to enforce their repelling power against preying wasps. This phenomenon can be identified as predator driving which is generally associated with mobbing behaviour (particularly known in selfish herds of vertebrate species), which is, until now, not reported in insects.

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Directional alignment (w → sh) as assessed with the split-component method. This approach distinguishes four directional conditions of the wasp (coded red) and the gravity centre of the shimmering wave (coded blue). a The sketches explain the pairs of positional deviations (Δx and Δy) given for the four categories of alignments with ipsi-directional (code I) and contra-directional (code C) dispositions (as displayed in panel B). b Ordinate, alignment rates (DIR xI, yI, white bars in the histograms; DIR xI, yC, bright grey; DIR xC, yI, dark grey; DIR xC, yC, black) sorted after four positional relations (abscissa POS1–4, see panel C) summed up to the rate value of 1.0 for each of the sessions investigated (nss = 50); Histogram bars, arithmetical means; vertical lines, SEMs; the empirical data were exemplified for latency conditions of lag = 1. c Four positional relations: POS1: tr-bl; POS2: tl-br; POS3: bl-tr; POS4: br-tl; with t top; r right; b bottom; l left). d The specific constellation tl-br, where the wasp as stimulus was positioned in the given frame at the top-left (red: tl) of the gravity centre of the shimmering wave as responder. Conversely, the gravity centre of the shimmering wave was positioned at the bottom-right (blue: br) of the wasp. e Summarization of alignment rates regarding the four directional relations (DIR1–4): ordinate, the rate of alignment as defined in panel B; circles, medians of alignment rates regarding POS1–4, normalized to 1.0. Abscissa, latency in frames [ff] and milliseconds [ms] between wasp flight as stimulus and shimmering wave as response; regression polynomials: DIR xI yI, R2 = 0.7927; DIR xI yC, 0.8160; DIR xC yI, 0.7577; DIR xC yC, 0.9187
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Fig6: Directional alignment (w → sh) as assessed with the split-component method. This approach distinguishes four directional conditions of the wasp (coded red) and the gravity centre of the shimmering wave (coded blue). a The sketches explain the pairs of positional deviations (Δx and Δy) given for the four categories of alignments with ipsi-directional (code I) and contra-directional (code C) dispositions (as displayed in panel B). b Ordinate, alignment rates (DIR xI, yI, white bars in the histograms; DIR xI, yC, bright grey; DIR xC, yI, dark grey; DIR xC, yC, black) sorted after four positional relations (abscissa POS1–4, see panel C) summed up to the rate value of 1.0 for each of the sessions investigated (nss = 50); Histogram bars, arithmetical means; vertical lines, SEMs; the empirical data were exemplified for latency conditions of lag = 1. c Four positional relations: POS1: tr-bl; POS2: tl-br; POS3: bl-tr; POS4: br-tl; with t top; r right; b bottom; l left). d The specific constellation tl-br, where the wasp as stimulus was positioned in the given frame at the top-left (red: tl) of the gravity centre of the shimmering wave as responder. Conversely, the gravity centre of the shimmering wave was positioned at the bottom-right (blue: br) of the wasp. e Summarization of alignment rates regarding the four directional relations (DIR1–4): ordinate, the rate of alignment as defined in panel B; circles, medians of alignment rates regarding POS1–4, normalized to 1.0. Abscissa, latency in frames [ff] and milliseconds [ms] between wasp flight as stimulus and shimmering wave as response; regression polynomials: DIR xI yI, R2 = 0.7927; DIR xI yC, 0.8160; DIR xC yI, 0.7577; DIR xC yC, 0.9187

Mentions: A typical A. dorsata nest is shaped alike a hemispherical plate and measures mostly more than 1 m in the horizontal span. It also has specialized regions, most of them peripheral to the mouth region, where shimmering waves are generally initiated (Schmelzer and Kastberger 2009). A wasp usually preys around the bees’ nest by hovering or scanning at an average distance of 50 cm (Kastberger et al. 2008), also below and above the nest, possibly by favouring certain regions of it. Therefore, it makes sense to include the relations between the positions of the wasp and of the gravity centres of the shimmering waves at every time step of interaction, from both perspectives (w → sh and sh → w). For that, four positional conditions were distinguished (POS1–4: Figs. 6c and 7c) in which the positional centre of one party was at the right, left, top or bottom side of that of the other party.Fig. 6


Giant honeybees (Apis dorsata) mob wasps away from the nest by directed visual patterns.

Kastberger G, Weihmann F, Zierler M, Hötzl T - Naturwissenschaften (2014)

Directional alignment (w → sh) as assessed with the split-component method. This approach distinguishes four directional conditions of the wasp (coded red) and the gravity centre of the shimmering wave (coded blue). a The sketches explain the pairs of positional deviations (Δx and Δy) given for the four categories of alignments with ipsi-directional (code I) and contra-directional (code C) dispositions (as displayed in panel B). b Ordinate, alignment rates (DIR xI, yI, white bars in the histograms; DIR xI, yC, bright grey; DIR xC, yI, dark grey; DIR xC, yC, black) sorted after four positional relations (abscissa POS1–4, see panel C) summed up to the rate value of 1.0 for each of the sessions investigated (nss = 50); Histogram bars, arithmetical means; vertical lines, SEMs; the empirical data were exemplified for latency conditions of lag = 1. c Four positional relations: POS1: tr-bl; POS2: tl-br; POS3: bl-tr; POS4: br-tl; with t top; r right; b bottom; l left). d The specific constellation tl-br, where the wasp as stimulus was positioned in the given frame at the top-left (red: tl) of the gravity centre of the shimmering wave as responder. Conversely, the gravity centre of the shimmering wave was positioned at the bottom-right (blue: br) of the wasp. e Summarization of alignment rates regarding the four directional relations (DIR1–4): ordinate, the rate of alignment as defined in panel B; circles, medians of alignment rates regarding POS1–4, normalized to 1.0. Abscissa, latency in frames [ff] and milliseconds [ms] between wasp flight as stimulus and shimmering wave as response; regression polynomials: DIR xI yI, R2 = 0.7927; DIR xI yC, 0.8160; DIR xC yI, 0.7577; DIR xC yC, 0.9187
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Related In: Results  -  Collection

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Fig6: Directional alignment (w → sh) as assessed with the split-component method. This approach distinguishes four directional conditions of the wasp (coded red) and the gravity centre of the shimmering wave (coded blue). a The sketches explain the pairs of positional deviations (Δx and Δy) given for the four categories of alignments with ipsi-directional (code I) and contra-directional (code C) dispositions (as displayed in panel B). b Ordinate, alignment rates (DIR xI, yI, white bars in the histograms; DIR xI, yC, bright grey; DIR xC, yI, dark grey; DIR xC, yC, black) sorted after four positional relations (abscissa POS1–4, see panel C) summed up to the rate value of 1.0 for each of the sessions investigated (nss = 50); Histogram bars, arithmetical means; vertical lines, SEMs; the empirical data were exemplified for latency conditions of lag = 1. c Four positional relations: POS1: tr-bl; POS2: tl-br; POS3: bl-tr; POS4: br-tl; with t top; r right; b bottom; l left). d The specific constellation tl-br, where the wasp as stimulus was positioned in the given frame at the top-left (red: tl) of the gravity centre of the shimmering wave as responder. Conversely, the gravity centre of the shimmering wave was positioned at the bottom-right (blue: br) of the wasp. e Summarization of alignment rates regarding the four directional relations (DIR1–4): ordinate, the rate of alignment as defined in panel B; circles, medians of alignment rates regarding POS1–4, normalized to 1.0. Abscissa, latency in frames [ff] and milliseconds [ms] between wasp flight as stimulus and shimmering wave as response; regression polynomials: DIR xI yI, R2 = 0.7927; DIR xI yC, 0.8160; DIR xC yI, 0.7577; DIR xC yC, 0.9187
Mentions: A typical A. dorsata nest is shaped alike a hemispherical plate and measures mostly more than 1 m in the horizontal span. It also has specialized regions, most of them peripheral to the mouth region, where shimmering waves are generally initiated (Schmelzer and Kastberger 2009). A wasp usually preys around the bees’ nest by hovering or scanning at an average distance of 50 cm (Kastberger et al. 2008), also below and above the nest, possibly by favouring certain regions of it. Therefore, it makes sense to include the relations between the positions of the wasp and of the gravity centres of the shimmering waves at every time step of interaction, from both perspectives (w → sh and sh → w). For that, four positional conditions were distinguished (POS1–4: Figs. 6c and 7c) in which the positional centre of one party was at the right, left, top or bottom side of that of the other party.Fig. 6

Bottom Line: In particular, the concerted action of shimmering behaviour is known to effectively confuse and repel predators.The findings give evidence that shimmering honeybees utilize directional alignment to enforce their repelling power against preying wasps.This phenomenon can be identified as predator driving which is generally associated with mobbing behaviour (particularly known in selfish herds of vertebrate species), which is, until now, not reported in insects.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Zoology, University Graz, Graz, Austria, gerald.kastberger@uni-graz.at.

ABSTRACT
The open nesting behaviour of giant honeybees (Apis dorsata) accounts for the evolution of a series of defence strategies to protect the colonies from predation. In particular, the concerted action of shimmering behaviour is known to effectively confuse and repel predators. In shimmering, bees on the nest surface flip their abdomens in a highly coordinated manner to generate Mexican wave-like patterns. The paper documents a further-going capacity of this kind of collective defence: the visual patterns of shimmering waves align regarding their directional characteristics with the projected flight manoeuvres of the wasps when preying in front of the bees' nest. The honeybees take here advantage of a threefold asymmetry intrinsic to the prey-predator interaction: (a) the visual patterns of shimmering turn faster than the wasps on their flight path, (b) they "follow" the wasps more persistently (up to 100 ms) than the wasps "follow" the shimmering patterns (up to 40 ms) and (c) the shimmering patterns align with the wasps' flight in all directions at the same strength, whereas the wasps have some preference for horizontal correspondence. The findings give evidence that shimmering honeybees utilize directional alignment to enforce their repelling power against preying wasps. This phenomenon can be identified as predator driving which is generally associated with mobbing behaviour (particularly known in selfish herds of vertebrate species), which is, until now, not reported in insects.

Show MeSH
Related in: MedlinePlus