Division of labor during honey bee colony defense

M. D. Breed, G. E. Robinson, Robert Page

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

89 Scopus citations


Some worker Apis mellifera respond to major disturbances of the colony by flying around the assailant and possibly stinging; they are a subset of the bees involved in colony defense. These defenders have an open-ended age distribution similar to that of foragers, but defensive behavior is initiated at a younger age than foraging is. Behaviorally, defenders have less worn wings than foragers, suggesting less flight activity. Genetically, defenders differ in allozyme frequencies, demonstrating different subfamily composition from foragers in the same colony. They also differ in allozyme frequencies from guards in the same colony, providing further evidence for division of labor associated with colony defense. A model for honey bee colony defense involves at least 2 distinct groups of workers; the non-guard defenders are called "soldiers', due to their important role in colony defense. -from Authors

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationBehavioral Ecology & Sociobiology
Number of pages7
StatePublished - 1990
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)
  • Environmental Science(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Division of labor during honey bee colony defense'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this