Honey bee behaviours within the hive: insights from long-term video analysis

  • The combined behaviours of individuals within insect societies determine the survival and development of the colony. For the western honey bee (Apis mellifera), individual behaviours include nest building, foraging, storing and ripening food, nursing the brood, temperature regulation, hygiene and defence. However, the various behaviours inside the colony, especially within the cells, are hidden from sight, and until recently, were primarily described through texts and line drawings, which lack the dynamics of moving images. In this study, we provide a comprehensive source of online video material that offers a view of honey bee behaviour within comb cells, thereby providing a new mode of observation for the scientific community and the general public. We analysed long-term video recordings from longitudinally truncated cells, which allowed us to see sideways into the cells in the middle of a colony. Our qualitative study provides insight into worker behaviours, including the use of wax scales and existing nest material to remodel combs, storing pollen and nectar in cells, brood care and thermoregulation, and hygienic practices, such as cannibalism, grooming and surface cleaning. We reveal unique processes that have not been previously published, such as the rare mouth-to-mouth feeding by nurses to larvae as well as thermoregulation within cells containing the developing brood. With our unique video method, we are able to bring the processes of a fully functioning social insect colony into classrooms and homes, facilitating ecological awareness in modern times. We provide new details and images that will help scientists test their hypotheses on social behaviours. In addition, we encourage the non-commercial use of our material to educate beekeepers, the media and the public and, in turn, call attention to the general decline of insect biomass and diversity.
Author:Paul Siefert, Nastasya Buling, Bernd Grünewald
Parent Title (English):PLOS ONE
Publisher:Public Library of Science
Place of publication:San Francisco
Document Type:Article
Date of Publication (online):2021/03/17
Date of first Publication:2021/03/17
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Release Date:2021/06/02
Issue:(3) e0247323
Page Number:14
First Page:1
Last Page:14
Dewey Decimal Classification:5 Naturwissenschaften und Mathematik / 59 Tiere (Zoologie) / 590 Tiere (Zoologie)
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - Namensnennung 4.0