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

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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
Singapore
6th October 2018

Reference:
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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2 Responses

  1. 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…

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  2. 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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