Article

Firewalls in bee nests—survival value of propolis walls of wild Cape honeybee (Apis mellifera capensis)

Authors:
Article

Firewalls in bee nests—survival value of propolis walls of wild Cape honeybee (Apis mellifera capensis)

If you want to read the PDF, try requesting it from the authors.

Abstract

The Cape bee is endemic to the winter rainfall region of South Africa where fires are an integral part of the ecology of the fynbos (heathland) vegetation. Of the 37 wild nests in pristine Peninsula Sandstone Fynbos in the Cape Point section of Table Mountain National Park that have been analyzed so far, only 22 could be accessed sufficiently to determine the existence of a propolis wall of which 68% had propolis walls which entirely enclosed their openings. The analysis of the 37 wild nests revealed that 78% occurred under boulders or in clefts within rocks, 11% in the ground, 8% in tree cavities, and 3% within shrubs. The analysis of 17 of these nests following a fire within the park revealed that the propolis walls materially protected the nests and retarded the fire with all the colonies surviving. The bees responded to the smoke by imbibing honey and retreating to the furthest recess of their nest cavity. The bees were required to utilize this honey for about 3 weeks after which fire-loving plants appeared and began flowering. Considerable resources were utilized in the construction of the propolis walls, which ranged in thickness from 1.5 to 40 mm (mean 5 mm). Its physical environment determines the nesting behavior of the Cape bee. The prolific use of propolis serves to insulate the nest from extremes of temperature and humidity, restricts entry, camouflages the nest, and acts as an effective fire barrier protecting nests established mostly under rocks in vegetation subjected to periodic fires.

No full-text available

Request Full-text Paper PDF

To read the full-text of this research,
you can request a copy directly from the authors.

... These results suggest that subordinate species may be more willing to adopt a colonist strategy following disturbance and therefore are better equipped to escape and survive wildfires (Sensenig et al., 2017). However, some insects may not attempt to evade fire and instead use smoke as a cue to retreat to protective nest structures, such as the Cape honeybee (Apis mellifera capensis) (Tribe et al., 2017). Regardless of their fire avoidance strategy, smoke could compromise the ability of insects to escape fires by impairing flight performance . ...
Article
Full-text available
Climate change is intensifying global wildfire activity, and people and wildlife are increasingly exposed to hazardous air pollution during large-scale smoke events. Although wildfire smoke is considered a growing risk to public health, few studies have investigated the impacts of wildfire smoke on wildlife, particularly among species that are vulnerable to smoke inhalation. In this review, we synthesized research to date on how wildfire smoke affects the health and behavior of wildlife. After executing a systematic search using Web of Science, we found only 41 relevant studies. We synthesized findings from this literature and incorporated knowledge gained from fields outside wildlife science, specifically veterinary medicine and air pollution toxicology. Although studies that directly investigated effects of smoke on wildlife were few in number, they show that wildfire smoke contributes to adverse acute and chronic health outcomes in wildlife and influences animal behavior. Our review demonstrates that smoke inhalation can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning, respiratory distress, neurological impairment, respiratory and cardiovascular disease, oxidative stress, and immunosuppression in wildlife, including terrestrial and aquatic species, and these health effects can contribute to changes in movement and vocalization. Some species also use smoke as a cue to engage in fire-avoidance behaviors or to conserve energy. However, our review also highlights significant gaps in our understanding of the impacts of wildfire smoke on wildlife. Most notably, the lack of robust air pollution measurements in existing studies limits meta-analyses and hinders construction of dose-response relationships, thereby precluding predictions of health outcomes and behaviors under different air quality conditions, especially during extreme smoke events. We recommend that future studies leverage existing data sets, infrastructure, and tools to rapidly advance research on this important conservation topic and highlight the potential value of interdisciplinary collaborations between ecologists and atmospheric chemists.
Article
Der Einsatz von Rauch ermöglicht dem Imker, an einem Bienenvolk zu arbeiten, ohne damit rechnen zu müssen, dass die Bienen den Eindringling angreifen. Was steckt biologisch hinter dem besonderen Verhalten der Honigbienen, wenn sie Rauch wahrnehmen?
Book
Full-text available
See Review at http://envhis.oxfordjournals.org/content/21/4/766.full Cape Town's iconic Table Mountain and the surrounding peninsula has been a crucible for attempts to integrate the social and ecological dimensions of wild fire. This environmental history of humans and wildfire outlines these interactions from the practices of Khoikhoi herders to the conflagrations of January 2000. The region's unique, famously diverse fynbos vegetation has been transformed since European colonial settlement, through urbanisation and biological modifications, both intentional (forestry) and unintentional (biological invasions). In all the diverse visions people have formed for Table Mountain, aesthetic and utilitarian, fire has been regarded as a central problem. This book shows how scientific understandings of fire in fynbos developed slowly in the face of strong prejudices. Human impacts were intensified in the twentieth century, which provides the temporal focus for the book. The disjunctures between popular perception, expert knowledge, policy and management are explored, and the book supplements existing short-term scientific data with proxies on fire incidence trends recovered from historical records.
Article
Full-text available
Thelytoky, the asexual production of females, is rare in honey bees. However, it is ubiquitous in workers of the Cape honey bee Apis mellifera capensis. Thelytoky allows some workers to be reincarnated into the queen phenotype, and thereby selects for reproductive competition among workers. Thelytoky also acts as an exaptation for the emergence of reproductive parasites, the most extreme example of which is an entirely clonal ‘cancerous’ lineage of workers (the Clone) that lethally parasitises colonies of another subspecies Apis mellifera scutellata. The Clone is an enigma because thelytoky results in the accumulation of homozygosity at any loci that are free to recombine, yet the Clone retains considerable heterozygosity. The Clone pays a cost for its thelytoky: the selective removal of homozygous offspring at each generation. We propose that workers, queens and Clones have differing abilities to endure the costs and benefits of sex and asexuality, accounting for the heterogeneous distribution of reproductive strategies across the A. mellifera capensis population. We further suggest that multiple factors must fall into place for thelytoky to emerge as an effective reproductive strategy in a honey bee population, and that geographic isolation resulting in genetic drift and founder effects may have enabled thelytoky to emerge in A. mellifera capensis. Finally, we consider the honey bee in the broader context of haplodiploid Hymenoptera, and argue that constraints on the evolution of sex in non-haplodiploid taxa may make sexual reproduction an evolutionary ‘one-way street’.
Article
Full-text available
During 34 continuous observations of hive entrances averaging 7 hours a day, 3% of brood disappeared from 5539 cells recorded. No brood or parts of brood could be found in the hive, and none were seen being carried out of it. It is therefore concluded that the brood that disappeared was eaten by the workers.Records of 6606 eggs and the individuals arising from them showed that the youngest brood was most likely, and the oldest least likely, to be eaten. There were significant differences between spring, summer and autumn. Brood survived to emergence of the adult at 75–80% in spring, 80–90% in summer, and 50–75% in autumn. Significantly more drone brood than worker brood was eaten. Similar survival rates were found (for worker and for drone brood) in queenright and queenless colonies in spring and summer, but in autumn, significantly more of both survived in queenless (75%) than in queenright (50–65%) colonies. Thus, by dequeening a colony in autumn, its efficiency in drone rearing could be raised t...
Article
Full-text available
The spatial distribution and nesting biology were examined for naturally occurring colonies of the African honey bee race Apis mellifera scutellata (Lepeletier) in the Okavango River Delta, Botswana. Colonies had a density of 4.2/km2 but exhibited considerable spatial clumping. Nest aggregations did not appear to result from short swarm dispersal distances, clumped resources or benefits derived from increased nest defense. Nests occurred predominantly in wooden cavities, particularly in abandoned woodpecker nests in dead palm trees. Nest cavities had a volume of ≍33 liters and south-facing, top-located entrances. Colonies constmcted ≍6,000 cm2 of comb, devoted the majority of comb area to worker brood production, stored relatively little food, and allocated ≍8% of comb area to drone rearing. A comparison of the A. m. scutellata colonies in the Okavango with neotropical African colonies throughout Central and South America revealed that the neotropical colonies were more likely to construct exposed comb nests and less likely to occupy wooden cavities. However, no differences were found between the Okavango and neotropical colonies in nest density, cavity volume, total comb area, or the proportions of comb devoted to worker brood production, food storage or drone rearing. Thus, the aspects of nesting biology examined appear to have remained largely unchanged from the ancestral African condition during the colonization of Central and South America.
Article
Full-text available
African honeybees, Apis mellifera, are characterised by frequent disturbance-induced absconding. However, the effectiveness in preparation before such disturbance-induced absconding has not been rigorously quantified yet. We investigated the effectiveness of preparation for disturbance-induced absconding by evaluating colony phenotypes prior to and after absconding in ten colonies of the Cape honeybee, A. m. capensis. Seven non-absconding colonies at the same apiary were used as controls. While seven absconded colonies left neither stores nor brood behind, three colonies abandoned only a small area of honey, pollen, open or capped brood. At the end of the observations, the control colonies still had pollen and honey stores and brood. The mean reduction rate between a major disturbance and the absconding event was 0.052 ± 0.018 cm2 stores and open brood per worker per day. Our results demonstrate that disturbance-induced absconding can also occur with preparation, if the disturbance is not highly destructive and enough time for preparation is available. We conclude that Cape honeybee colonies can show a considerable high effectiveness in their preparation before disturbance-induced absconding, which limits the loss of colony resources. In light of the general high mobility of African honeybee colonies such an efficient behaviour is probably adaptive.
Article
Full-text available
Social immunity, which describes how individual behaviors of group members effectively reduce disease and parasite transmission at the colony level, is an emerging field in social insect biology. An understudied, but significant behavioral disease resistance mechanism in honey bees is their collection and use of plant resins. Honey bees harvest resins with antimicrobial properties from various plant species and bring them back to the colony where they are then mixed with varying amounts of wax and utilized as propolis. Propolis is an apicultural term for the resins when used by bees within a hive. While numerous studies have investigated the chemical components of propolis that could be used to treat human diseases, there is a lack of information on the importance of propolis in regards to bee health. This review serves to provide a compilation of recent research concerning the behavior of bees in relation to resins and propolis, focusing more on the bees themselves and the potential evolutionary benefits of resin collection. Future research goals are also established in order to create a new focus within the literature on the natural history of resin use among the social insects and role that propolis plays in disease resistance.
Article
Full-text available
The honeybees of southern Africa were assessed for expression of the trait, diploid eggs laid by workers, worker ovariole number, spermatheca size, worker size and allozymes of malate dehydrogenase. A m capensis is readily defined in terms of the first 2 of these traits and may further be separated from A m scutellata by a suite of biological characteristics associated with laying worker development and behaviour, queenless cell building, foraging, thermoregulation and docility. The Cape honeybee occurs in the fynbos biome along the southwest and south coasts of South Africa extending into the interior as far as the mountains bordering on the Klein Karoo. From here it hybridizes with A m scutellata to the next mountain ranges near latitude 32 where hybrids fall away. This border is a barrier where there are fundamental differences in topography, climate and vegetation which place the 2 races ecologically totally out phase and ensure the relative stability of A m capensis and A m scutellata as separate races.
Article
Full-text available
To reproduce successfully, a honey bee colony has to rear brood efficiently. This requires a fecund queen and depends on the coordinated activities of workers in brood care, in foraging, and in maintaining inner nest homeostasis. Maintaining homeostasis involves thermal regulation of the brood area and providing a steady supply of nutrients, which requires building food reserves during favorable weather so that the brood can be well fed even during times of low nutritional influx. The workforce of adult bees is appropriately divided among the required tasks, and the wax comb itself is spatially organized in a way that saves energy and supports brood nursing. The ability to achieve this homeostasis results from a set of individual behaviors and communication processes performed in parallel by thousands of bees. In this review, we discuss these proximate individual mechanisms that lead to the precise regulation of the complex system that is a honey bee society.
Book
This is a stimulating tale of the interplay of observation, experimentation, working hypotheses, tentative conclusions, niggling and weightier doubts and great aspirations, on the part of some score of students, on varied ecological and other aspects of the regime and role of fire in relevant biomes and ecosystem- mainly in South Africa - and on other pertinent features of fire ecology. The impressive contents is a tribute to conveners and authors alike. One can expect a profound range and depth ofinvestigation and interpretation, a closeknit fabric of knowledge, delicately interwoven with wisdom, an exposition and quintessence of information. Admipable is the collective vision responsible for selecting appropriate topics: the wide sweeps of the brush picturing the nature of the biomes; ably describing the fire regimes - whether in grassland, savanna, fynbos or forest; skillfully defining the effects of such regimes - according to ecosystem - upon aerial and edaphic factors of the habitat, upon constituent biota, individually, specifically and as a biotic community; elucidating the basic implications in the structure and dynamics of the plant aspect of that community ... and unravelling to some degree the tangled knot of the conservation and dissipation of moisture and nutrients. Moreover, gratitude is owed for efforts exerted to understand the interplay of fire and faunal behaviour and dynamics as well as composition, together with the principle of adaptive responses of organisms of diverse kinds.
Article
A comprehensive review of the honeybees of Africa on a subspecies as well as by country basis. Includes an updated multivariate analysis of the subspecies based on the merger of the Ruttner database (Oberursel) and that of Hepburn & Radloff (Grahamstown) for nearly 20,000 bees. Special emphasis is placed on natural zones of hybridisation and introgression of different populations; seasonal cycles of development in different ecological-climatological zones of the continent; swarming, migration and absconding; and an analysis of the bee flora of the continent. The text is supplemented by tables containing quantitative data on all aspects of honeybee biology, and by continental and regional maps.
Article
(1) South African fynbos (sclerophyllous shrubland) vegetation is fire-prone, and fire is important in fynbos management. No data on fire behaviour in fynbos are presently available. (2) The behaviour of fourteen experimental fires in fynbos tall open shrublands is described. Rates of spread ranged from 0.04 to 0.89 m s-1, flame lengths from 2.8 to 7.0 m and fire intensities from 515 to 20 709 kW m-1. (3) The fire behaviour is compared to predictions from Rothermel's fire spread model, which uses fuel characteristics and environmental conditions to predict fire spread and intensity. Predictions of rate of spread and flame length were good but fire intensity was underestimated where biomass and fire hazard were high. (4) The results are compared to fire behaviour in other shrubland ecosystems. Rates of fire spread and fire intensity are greater in fynbos than in Scottish heathland, and are equivalent to those reported for Californian chaparral. (5) The inclusion of fire danger indices and predictions based on Rothermel's model in fynbos fire records will enhance their value. The model can also be useful in fire research, particularly in homogenous vegetation, and represents an improvement on techniques such as the measurement of fire temperature.
Article
The application of smoke to honey bee(Apis mellifera) antennae reduced the subsequent electroantennograph response of the antennae to honey bee alarm pheromones, isopentyl acetate, and 2-heptanone. This effect was reversible, and the responsiveness of antennae gradually returned to that of controls within 10–20 min. A similar effect occurred with a floral odor, phenylacetaldehyde, suggesting that smoke interferes with olfaction generally, rather than specifically with honey bee alarm pheromones. A reduction in peripheral sensitivity appears to be one component of the mechanism by which smoke reduces nest defense behavior of honey bees.
Article
The book presents honeybees as a model system for investigating advanced social life among insects from an evolutionary perspective.Originally published in 1985.The Princeton Legacy Library uses 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.
Article
Although pollinator declines are a global biodiversity threat, the demography of the western honeybee (Apis mellifera) has not been considered by conservationists because it is biased by the activity of beekeepers. To fill this gap in pollinator decline censuses and to provide a broad picture of the current status of honeybees across their natural range, we used microsatellite genetic markers to estimate colony densities and genetic diversity at different locations in Europe, Africa, and central Asia that had different patterns of land use. Genetic diversity and colony densities were highest in South Africa and lowest in Northern Europe and were correlated with mean annual temperature. Confounding factors not related to climate, however, are also likely to influence genetic diversity and colony densities in honeybee populations. Land use showed a significantly negative influence over genetic diversity and the density of honeybee colonies over all sampling locations. In Europe honeybees sampled in nature reserves had genetic diversity and colony densities similar to those sampled in agricultural landscapes, which suggests that the former are not wild but may have come from managed hives. Other results also support this idea: putative wild bees were rare in our European samples, and the mean estimated density of honeybee colonies on the continent closely resembled the reported mean number of managed hives. Current densities of European honeybee populations are in the same range as those found in the adverse climatic conditions of the Kalahari and Saharan deserts, which suggests that beekeeping activities do not compensate for the loss of wild colonies. Our findings highlight the importance of reconsidering the conservation status of honeybees in Europe and of regarding beekeeping not only as a profitable business for producing honey, but also as an essential component of biodiversity conservation.
What is the Cape bee?
  • G D Tribe
Tribe GD (1983) What is the Cape bee? South African Bee Journal 55(4):77-87
Defining the Cape honeybee: reproductive traits of queenless workers
  • H R Hepburn
  • R M Crewe
Hepburn HR, Crewe RM (1990) Defining the Cape honeybee: reproductive traits of queenless workers. S Afr J Sci 86:524-527
Geography of Cape honeybee based on laying worker performance
  • H R Hepburn
  • R M Crewe
Hepburn HR, Crewe RM (1991a) Geography of Cape honeybee based on laying worker performance. South African Bee Journal 63(3):51-59
A look at the littlest floral kingdom
  • M Jarman
Jarman M (1982) A look at the littlest floral kingdom. Scientiae 23(3):9-19
How does smoke affect honey bees?
  • R Pradhan
Pradhan R (2015) How does smoke affect honey bees? https://www. scienceabc.com/nature/how-does-smoke-affect-honey-bees.html.
Efficient hunting of feral colonies
  • A M Wenner
  • J E Alcock
  • D E Meade
Wenner AM, Alcock JE, Meade DE (1992) Efficient hunting of feral colonies. Beesource Beekeeping. https://beesource.com/point-ofview/adrian-wenner/efficient-hunting-of-feral-colonies/
Swarming, absconding and migration in southern African bees
  • H R Hepburn
Hepburn HR (1993) Swarming, absconding and migration in southern African bees. South African Bee Journal 65:61-66
The Cape honeybee and the fynbos biome
  • H R Hepburn
  • A J Guillarmod
Hepburn HR, Guillarmod AJ (1991) The Cape honeybee and the fynbos biome. S Afr J Sci 87:70-73
Spatial distribution and nesting biology of colonies of the African honey bee
  • Lc Mcnally
  • Ss Schneider
Report to the Minister of Water Affairs and Forestry and Premier of the Western Cape by the task team: Towards improved Veld fire Management in South Africa
  • P V De Booysen
  • N M Tainton
De Booysen PV, Tainton NM (1984) Ecological effects of fire in South African ecosystems. Springer-Verlag, Berlin Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (2000) A review of the Veld Fires in the Western Cape during 15-25 January 2000. Report to the Minister of Water Affairs and Forestry and Premier of the Western Cape by the task team: Towards improved Veld fire Management in South Africa. pp 143
Propolis and bee health: the natural history and significance of resin use by honey bees
  • T D Seeley
Seeley TD (1985) Honeybee ecology. Princeton University Press, Princeton Simone-Finstrom M, Spivak M (2010) Propolis and bee health: the natural history and significance of resin use by honey bees. Apidologie 41:295-311