Dwarf Honey Bee: 2. What happens when it rains?

posted in: Bees and wasps | 2

Dwarf Honey Bee: 1. Colony

The Dwarf Honey Bee (Apis andreniformis) builds its colony in the open, usually round a twig in a bush or small tree. In this instance the tree was a roadside Golden Penda (Xanthostemon chrysanthus) – LINK.

Unlike the Asian Hive Bee (Apis cerana) which nests inside a cavity, the Dwarf Honey Bee has its nest exposed to the elements. The leaves around the colony provide limited protection. Thus when it rains, the curtains of bees that hang around the single comb keep off the rain water from the colony.

Video grab of the colony during rain.

According to Koeniger et al. (2010), the layers of bees around the comb are arranged like rows of shingles. In every single hanging row of worker bees surrounding the comb, the head of each bee is placed below the abdomen of the bee directly above. Raindrops that fall down the colony onto the abdomen of the bees are simply flipped off the colony. As the whole colony tapers off to a point, these drops eventually fall off without entering the comb (above, below).

The colony after the rain appears normal (below).

YC Wee
6th October 2018

Koeniger, N., G. Koeniger & S. Tingek (2010). Honey bees of Borneo: Exploring the centre of Apis diversity. National History Publications (Borneo), Kota Kinabalu. 262 pp.

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Dr Wee played a significant role as a green advocate in Singapore through his extensive involvement in various organizations and committees: as Secretary and Chairman for the Malayan Nature Society (Singapore Branch), and with the Nature Society (Singapore) as founding President (1978-1995). He has also served in the Nature Reserve Board (1987-1989), Nature Reserves Committee (1990-1996), National Council on the Environment/Singapore Environment Council (1992-1996), Work-Group on Nature Conservation (1992) and Inter-Varsity Council on the Environment (1995-1997). He is Patron of the Singapore Gardening Society and was appointed Honorary Museum Associate of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM) in 2012. In 2005, Dr Wee started the Bird Ecology Study Group. With more than 6,000 entries, the website has become a valuable resource consulted by students, birdwatchers and researchers locally and internationally. The views and opinions expressed in this article are his own, and do not represent those of LKCNHM, the National University of Singapore or its affiliated institutions.

2 Responses

  1. hamesha

    I loved the description of the arrangement of the bees to keep out the rain.. i wonder how they cool the inside of the honeycomb though ? singapore is a hot and humid country…

  2. YC Wee

    1. Evaporation of water in the colony. 2. The can gather nearby and by rapidly vibrating their wings, cools the colony.

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