How Apis mellifera Behaves with its Invasive Hornet Predator Vespa velutina?

Abstract

Invasive species are now recognized as a major cause of native biodiversity loss worldwide. In the current deleterious context for pollinators, the invasive yellow-legged hornet, Vespa velutina, represents an additional threat to the domestic honeybee, Apis mellifera, in Europe. Therefore, understanding the impact of this predator on honeybee colonies is of major importance. In the present study, we tried to assess the impact of V. velutina on the honeybee foraging and defence behaviour based on the video monitoring of two hives. Balling behaviour is reported here for the first time under natural conditions in A. mellifera against V. velutina in Europe. Although these results are preliminary and should be carefully considered, we found that the number of hornets impacted honeybee foraging and defence behaviours. More defensive behaviours were notified in the hive, which survives slightly longer. This may suggest that selecting for more defensive colonies may provide an interesting perspective.

Acknowledgements

This research project was funded by a FranceAgriMer [grant #797/2007–2010]. Second author was also supported by a grant from the Fondation pour la Recherche sur la Biodiversité [Wasprey project]. Financial support was also provided by CNRS, IRD and INRA SPE department core budgets. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. Conceived and designed the experiments: MA, GA. Performed the experiments: KM, MA, LL, OB, GA. Analyzed the data: KM, LL, DT. Contributed reagents/materials/analysis tools: KM, MA, OB, GA, DT. Wrote the paper: KM, DT.