1252 Hey babies, I'll protect you! Resources and defensiveness in killer bees

Wednesday, December 16, 2009: 3:59 PM
Room 102, First Floor (Convention Center)
Justin Schmidt , Southwestern Biological Institute, Tucson, AZ
Selection pressure should act at the levels of organisms or higher to minimize risks while maximizing fitness. In honey bees, defense against large predators is risky and costly, with the ultimate reward (cost) for a successful defense being individual death from loss of the stinger into the potential predator. The benefit of successfully stinging a threatening predator is an enhanced reduction in the probability of damage to, or destruction of, the reproductive unit, in this case the honey bee colony of 3-60 thousand individuals. Given the extreme risks and costs of defensive behavior on one hand and the potential benefit to the colony fitness on the other hand, individual defenders should optimally evaluate the risk-benefit ratio in executing defensive actions. The lower the potential harm level to the colony unit, the lower should be the risk taking by individuals. The opposite should apply to colonies having large potentials for harm. I hypothesize that risk of predation to a colony is proportional to the colony resources as measured by immature brood, honey, and pollen reserves, and that defending workers will be able to evaluate the risk to the colony and will tailor their defensive vigor accordingly. Data testing defensive responses of workers in colonies with little to lose and in others with much to lose will be presented and discussed.

doi: 10.1603/ICE.2016.41775