Stingless bee response to spider webs is dependent on the context of encounter

Dinesh Rao*, Ken Cheng, Marie E. Herberstein

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


In the course of their foraging bouts, bees frequently encounter spider webs among the vegetation. The ability to see and avoid these webs is vital for the success of the individual bee's foraging bout. In this study, we report on the response of stingless bees (Trigona carbonaria) towards the webs of the St. Andrew's Cross spider (Argiope keyserlingi). We studied the ability of bees to avoid webs in different contexts: when bees were on their foraging path or when they were returning to the hive as well as when they were flying North or South. We show that the probability of a bee being able to avoid a web depends on the context of the bee's flight rather than the visual appearance of the web. Furthermore, the presence of the spider seems to alert the bee to the web, resulting in bees being more able to avoid capture. We show, specifically, that the probability of being captured is higher when the bee is returning to the hive compared with when the bee is foraging. The likelihood of avoiding a web is also influenced by the compass direction of the flight, although to a lesser extent. Our results indicate that the context of the predator-prey encounter has a significant influence on a bee's ability to escape interception by a spider web.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)209-216
Number of pages8
JournalBehavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2008


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