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Volume 34, Number 3, May-June 2003
Page(s) 237 - 248
Apidologie 34 (2003) 237-248
DOI: 10.1051/apido:2003021

A stingless bee marks the feeding site in addition to the scent path (Scaptotrigona aff. depilis)

Veronika M. Schmidta, Ronaldo Zucchib and Friedrich G. Bartha

a  University of Vienna, Biocenter, Institute of Zoology, Althanstr. 14, 1090 Wien, Austria
b  University of São Paulo, FFCLRP, Department of Biology, Avenida Bandeirantes 3900, 14040-901 Ribeirão Preto, SP, Brasil

(Received 8 July 2002; revised 20 September 2002; accepted 25 September 2002)

Scaptotrigona depilis uses a scent trail to guide newly recruited bees to a food source. (i) Behavioral experiments show an additional chemical marking at the food source. The bees had to choose between an unused feeder and a feeder, at which their nestmates had fed. 71 to 86% of the bees chose the used feeder where the foragers had left attractants. The used feeder also attracted bees when it was moved away from its original site to a new site halfway along the scent path or 20 m beyond it. (ii) The localization of a food source by S. depilis is very precise with regard to both direction and distance. When control feeders were 1.7 m, 8.5 m, and 17 m away from the experimental feeder (at 50 m from the nest) 97.5-100% of the recruits chose the experimental feeder where the foragers were feeding. When positioned beyond the used feeder the control feeder remained unvisited. We conclude, that markings left at the used feeder represent particular end point tags and differ from scent path markings.

Key words: stingless bee / Scaptotrigona / scent marking / recruitment

Correspondence and reprints: Friedrich G. Barth

© INRA, EDP Sciences, DIB, AGIB 2003