Response of bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis) to feral honey bees (Apis mellifera) at water

Walter M Boyce, Chantal S. O'Brien, Esther S. Rubin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


We used remote cinematography to evaluate the interactions between feral honey bees (Apis mellifera) and desert bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis) at an artificial water source (guzzler) in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park in southern California from July through September 1995. Honey bees, determined by molecular analysis to be non-Africanized (i.e., not A. m. scutellata), were present at the guzzler collecting water from dawn to dusk whenever bighorn sheep were videotaped. Bighorn sheep exhibited behavioral responses (violent head shaking, rapid withdrawal from the water source, and temporary refusal to drink) to honey bees during 62% (66 of 107) of their visits to the guzzler. Bighorn sheep spent significantly (P < 0.001) more time at the guzzler when their visits were interrupted by honey bees than when they were not interrupted. We concluded that honey bees altered the behavior of bighorn sheep and that honey bees and bighorn sheep were competing for water resources at the guzzler.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)81-84
Number of pages4
JournalSouthwestern Naturalist
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology


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