Send to

Choose Destination
Annu Rev Entomol. 2004;49:271-98.

Defensive behavior of honey bees: organization, genetics, and comparisons with other bees.

Author information

Department of Environmental, Population and Organismic Biology, The University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado 80309-0334, USA.


One key advantage of eusociality is shared defense of the nest, brood, and stored food; nest defense plays an important role in the biology of eusocial bees. Recent studies on honey bees, Apis mellifera, have focused on the placement of defensive activity in the overall scheme of division of labor, showing that guard bees play a unique and important role in colony defense. Alarm pheromones function in integrating defensive responses; honey bee alarm pheromone is an excellent example of a multicomponent pheromonal blend. The genetic regulation of defensive behavior is now better understood from the mapping of quantitative trait loci (QTLs) associated with variation in defensiveness. Colony defense in other eusocial bees is less well understood, but enough information is available to provide interesting comparisons between A. mellifera and other species of Apis, as well as with allodapine, halictine, bombine, and meliponine bees. These comparative studies illustrate the wide variety of evolutionary solutions to problems in colony defense in the Apoidea.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Atypon
Loading ...
Support Center