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Volume 33, Number 3, May-June 2002
Page(s) 251 - 258

Apidologie 33 (2002) 251-258
DOI: 10.1051/apido:2002018

Time-place learning and the ecology of recruitment in a stingless bee, Trigona amalthea (Hymenoptera, Apidae)

Michael D. Breed, Erin M. Stocker, Laura K. Baumgartner and Stephanie A. Vargas

Department of Environmental, Population, and Organismic Biology, The University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309-0334, USA

(Received 20 September 2000; revised 16 October 2001; accepted 28 November 2001)

The stingless bee, Trigona amalthea (Olivier), has the ability to associate time and place with feeding. Bees learned to visit a training site during a feeding interval in order to acquire a reward. A lengthy period of anticipatory visits to the training site preceded the feeding interval. When a reward was not presented, visitation was high preceding and during the feeding interval but was rare following the feeding interval, behavior indicative of time-place learning. Additionally, we demonstrate that T. amalthea scouts recruit other workers to nectar baits, however, there is no relationship between the flight time to the colony and either the number of visits prior to recruitment or the number of workers recruited. Due to territoriality in this species, foraging ranges are truncated so that the expected reductions of foraging effort at the margins of the foraging territory are not observed. In T. amalthea a combination of time-place learning and recruitment allow for rapid mobilization of workers when food is available.

Key words: stingless bee / Meliponinae / Trigona / foraging / learning / recruitment

Correspondence and reprints: Michael D. Breed

© INRA, EDP Sciences, DIB, AGIB 2002