The alternative Pharaoh approach: stingless bees mummify beetle parasites alive

Greco, Mark K.; Hoffmann, Dorothee; Dollin, Anne; Duncan, Michael; Spooner-Hart, Robert; Neumann, Peter (2010). The alternative Pharaoh approach: stingless bees mummify beetle parasites alive. Naturwissenschaften, 97(3), pp. 319-323. Berlin: Springer-Verlag 10.1007/s00114-009-0631-9

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Workers from social insect colonies use different defence strategies to combat invaders. Nevertheless, some parasitic species are able to bypass colony defences. In particular, some beetle nest invaders cannot be killed or removed by workers of social bees, thus creating the need for alternative social defence strategies to ensure colony survival. Here we show, using diagnostic radioentomology, that stingless bee workers (Trigona carbonaria) immediately mummify invading adult small hive beetles (Aethina tumida) alive by coating them with a mixture of resin, wax and mud, thereby preventing severe damage to the colony. In sharp contrast to the responses of honeybee and bumblebee colonies, the rapid live mummification strategy of T. carbonaria effectively prevents beetle advancements and removes their ability to reproduce. The convergent evolution of mummification in stingless bees and encapsulation in honeybees is another striking example of co-evolution between insect societies and their parasites.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Ecology and Evolution (IEE)

UniBE Contributor:

Neumann, Peter

ISSN:

0028-1042

ISBN:

0028-1042

Publisher:

Springer-Verlag

Language:

English

Submitter:

Factscience Import

Date Deposited:

04 Oct 2013 14:17

Last Modified:

23 Oct 2019 03:35

Publisher DOI:

10.1007/s00114-009-0631-9

Web of Science ID:

000274403400009

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.5229

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/5229 (FactScience: 209959)

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