Measurements of stinging behaviour in individual worker honeybees (Apis mellifera L.)
Steven A. Kolmes And Linda A. Fergusson-Kolmes
Worker honeybees of different genetic backgrounds were tested, one bee at a time, in a laboratory bioassay of stinging behaviour. Bees from a highly defensive British* colony exhibited a lower threshold voltage of electrical stimulation to elicit stinging than bees from a less defensive Italian colony. The procedure described allows natural stinging behaviour to be elicited in the laboratory without the possibility of group effects and free from the complicated sets of environmental conditions that are unavoidable when entire colonies are tested in an apiary. No significant relationship between lancet barb number and stinging behaviour was found for either British or Italian bees. These results are discussed in terms of the currently available array of bioassays of stinging behaviour, and the relevance of the new technique to studies of honeybee defensive behaviour and its genetic basis. Possible modification of the previously described technique for commercial venom collection is also discussed.