Apidologie 31 (2000) 93-113
Recruitment behavior in stingless bees, Melipona scutellaris and
M. quadrifasciata. II. Possible mechanisms of communication
Friedrich G. Barth
Universität Wien, Biozentrum, Institut für Zoologie, Abteilung Physiologie -
Neurobiologie, Althanstraße 14, A-1090 Wien, Austria
Universidade de São Paulo, Faculdade de Filosofia e Letras,
Departamento de Biologia 14040-901 Ribeirão Preto, SP, Brazil
(Received 28 April 1999; revised 6 September 1999; accepted 22 September 1999)
To find out what foragers of the stingless bees Melipona scutellaris and
M. quadrifasciata actually do while recruiting nestmates to a food source we videotaped
their behavior in the nest and simultaneously recorded the sounds and vibrations produced by
them when returning from a rich food source. Neither temporal nor spectral characteristics of
the sounds and vibrations correlated significantly with distance or direction to the food.
Foragers motivated recruits to search for food at random by a "jostling run''. The number of
jostles by a forager correlates with the number of collecting bees. There was no correlation
between the movements of a returning forager and either distance or direction to the feeder.
"Zigzag flights'', guiding flights and scent marking of foragers were excluded as a way to
communicate the location of the food source. Aside from the indication of the mere existence
of a food source the mechanisms by which foragers communicate its location are still obscure.
stingless bee / recruitment / mechanisms of communication / Melipona species /
Correspondence and reprints: Friedrich G. Barth
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