Worker and queen honey bee behavior during foreign queen introduction

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Introductions of foreign queen honey bees (Apis mellifera) to observation colonies containing individually marked workers resulted in three distinct, simultaneously occurring responses: 1) complete passivity; 2) nonaggressive balling behavior; and 3) aggressive balling behavior. Balling persisted for 9.2 h (N=12) and involved approximately 15-20% of the colonies' populations. Participation in a ball was age-dependent, with 91.2% of the balling workers 12 days old or older. Only a small fraction (0.5-2%) of the colonies' workers behaved aggressively, while the remainder displayed nonaggressive balling behavior. Aggressive workers spent significantly more time in a ball than did nonaggressive workers, but there was no difference in age between the two subgroups. Foreign queens were not killed immediately upon introduction and were not continuously attacked throughout the balling period. Balling workers gradually became conditioned to some foreign queens beginning 3-5 h after introduction; the incidence of worker aggression steaily decreased while queen activity increased. Observations of queen behavior during balling do not support the "stress pheromone hypothesis" (Yadava and Smith, 1971).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)254-263
Number of pages10
JournalInsectes Sociaux
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1984
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Insect Science


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