Triggering honey bee defence signals

Biologists studying the Asian hornet (Vespa velutina) and Asian honey bees (Apis cerana) at the University of California in San Diego, USA have published new research that deconstructs the "I See You" signal that involves guard bees shaking their abdomens laterally, which increases as the threat intensifies.

The research suggests that visual recognition of Asian hornets appeared to be the main trigger for the signal instead of the Asian hornet's smell or sound and requires honesty within the highly co-operative bee colony to minimise false alarms.

This new study which highlights the rapid collective mass recruitment of bees in response to the signal is published in the Journal of Animal Ecology.