a1 Keystone Foundation, Kotagiri, The Nilgiris, Tamil Nadu 643217, India
a2 Bees for Development, Monmouth NP25 9AA, UK
a3 Centre for Agri-Environmental Research, University of Reading, Reading RG6 6AR, UK
a4 Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences, Pondicherry University, Kalapet, Pondicherry 605014, India
Nest site selection is critical for social insects since poor choices can heighten predation risks and result in reproductive failure (Franks et al. 2002). Social bees vary in their nest site requirements and among the Apis bees in South Asia, Apis dorsata and A. florea nest in open combs, whereas Apis cerana nests in cavities (Crane 1999). Apis dorsata often nests in aggregations, and the large open nests can be about 1.5 m wide and are located in sites such as cliff faces or on the underside of branches of tall trees that are inaccessible to most predators except skilled fliers and climbers (Crane 1999, Seeley et al. 1982). Apis dorsata, which is widely distributed in tropical and subtropical Asia, is an important source of honey and wax for local communities, and understanding its nesting biology would help in the management and conservation of this economically important species.
(Accepted April 25 2009)