Observations on the dance communication and natural foraging ranges of Apis cerana, Apis dorsata and Apis florea in Sri Lanka
R. W. K. Punchihewa, N. Koeniger, P. G. Kevan And R. M. Gadawski
The dance communication of Asiatic honeybees is qualitatively similar to that of Apis mellifera. However, in A. cerana and A. fiorea foraging at artificial feeders the dance tempo was observed to decline (i.e., the time per dance increased) more rapidly than has been reported for A. mellifera as distance to the food source increased. Apis cerana and A. fiorea forage over short distances; at 3 of the 6 sites in this trial A. cerana did not visit feeders beyond 500 m. In A. dorsata the change in dance tempo with increasing distance to forage was much slower and similar, in this respect, to that reported for A. mellifera. Both A. dorsata and A. mellifera are able to forage over long distances, although in this trial 72% of A. dorsata foragers did not fly beyond 400 m. Apis cerana and A. fiorea may be unable to communicate long distances to food sources, as these distances would be indicated by very slow dances. These potential intrinsic limits, and observed constraints on foraging distance in A. cerana, suggests that beekeepers should manage A. cerana in small, well separated apiaries. In this way floral resources over small areas would not become so depleted by high densities of bees that honey yields are reduced.