Morni Wildlife (Insects): Giant Honey Bee

Apis dorsata is a giant honey bee found in the forested areas of South/ South-east Asia and is about 2 cm in length. Nest consists of a single wax comb suspended  from a high tree branch in an exposed place. The comb is covered by a dense mass of bees in several layers. When disturbed a deadly ripple runs across the face of the comb as the worker bees raise and shake their abdomens in a synchronized motion. The bees can be fierce when provoked and are known to have stung humans to death.

The colony generally consists of one queen bee and thousands of drones (fertile males) and worker bees (sterile females). The wax comb is built by the worker bees who also forage for nectar and pollen to feed the larvae. The worker bees communicate the location of food through a ‘bee dance’. The queen mates with the drones who die in the act!

New colonies are established when a swarm consisting of the queen bee and the workers settle at a new location selected earlier by the worker bees. . The bees stop flying in winters and huddle together and shiver to maintain temperature. The stored honey is consumed during the winters.

Giant honey bee hive, Birshikargarh WLS (March, 2012)
Giant honey bee hive, Eucalyptus tree, Birshikargarh WLS
Wax comb of Giant honey bee

Bee hives are particularly plentiful in the Birshikargarh Wildlife Sanctuary Area. In a sudden unexpected deadly attack on the Vulture Breeding Centre, the bees stung to death some of the hapless vultures breeding in this international vulture breeding facility, much to the shock of the dedicated scientists working tirelessly to save the endangered species.