Honeybees 'Buzz Off' Tramp Ants
By Jody Bourton, BBC, 9/10/2009
Honeybees use their wings to 'blow away' marauding ants that venture too close to their nests.
Scientists in South Africa and China have captured this unique behaviour on film for the first time.
As the ants approach, the bees turn in circles and fan their wings with a force greater than when in flight.
This produces such a large force that individual ants can be blown off their feet, the researchers report in the Journal of Insect Behavior.
Cape honeybees (Apis mellifera capensis) are found in southern parts of South Africa.
Their nests are often invaded and damaged by a host of other insect pests, including tramp ants (Pheidole magacephala) hive beetles (Aethina tumida) and the greater waxmoth (Galleria mellonella).
But the researchers only came across the bees' defensive tactic by accident.
"I dropped some honey at the entrance of a honey bee colony by mistake," says Mr Ming-Xian Yang, a biologist at Rhodes University, Grahamstown in South Africa and Yunnam Agricultural University in Heilongtan, China.
"It was not long before the ants came, then guard bees started fanning immediately when they detected the ants."…