Bee colonies are waging war for months on end, sending waves of workers who collide, grapple and die. A genetic analysis of the battlefield fatalities showed that two different species of stingless bees were fighting for control of a single hive. The attacking swarm eventually took over the hive entirely, placing a new queen of its own in the usurped nest. The study,suggests that such usurped nests are surprisingly common.
Ecologists from Brisbane, in Australia, and Oxford, in the UK, looked in detail at one particular hive. It was inhabited by a bee species native to the area around Brisbane, called Tetragonula carbonaria. "They live in the hollows of trees and other cavities, so they're quite common in and around the city," said the study's lead author Dr Paul Cunningham, from the Queensland University of Technology. "And around this time of year, people see these big swarms outside the trees or around their houses. They're fighting swarms," Dr Cunningham told BBC News.