Temporal variation in group aggressiveness of honeybee (Apis mellifera) guards

Hadassah Troen, Irit Dubrovsky, Ram Tamir, Guy Bloch*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Little is known about the temporal organization of defensive behavior in honeybees. We studied "guards", the best-characterized class of colony defenders. We synchronized small groups under a light-dark illumination regime (LD), and video recorded their aggression toward an intruder bumblebee worker. In 1 out of 3 trials (each trial with a different source colony), the latency before the first attack was longer during the night in LD, or subjective night in constant conditions (DD); a similar trend was observed in DD in the two other trials. In 2 out of 3 trials, the number of stinging attempts varied with highest levels during the day in DD, but not in LD. There was a similar trend for the number of biting events. These findings reveal temporal variation in aggression under constant conditions, consistent with the hypothesis that the circadian clock influences guard aggressiveness. Nevertheless, the variability between LD and DD and across colonies calls for additional studies before reaching a definitive conclusion.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)283-291
Number of pages9
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2008


  • Aggression
  • Circadian rhythm
  • Colony defense
  • Division of labor
  • Honeybees


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