Free access
Volume 35, Number 6, November-December 2004
Page(s) 587 - 594
Apidologie 35 (2004) 587-594
DOI: 10.1051/apido:2004054

Caste ontogeny and the distribution of reproductive cells on the combs of Melipona beecheii (Apidae: Meliponini)

Humberto Moo-Valle, José Javier G. Quezada-Euán, Julio Canto-Martín and Jorge A. Gonzalez-Acereto

Departamento de Apicultura, Facultad de Medicina Veterinaria y Zootecnia, Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán, Apartado Postal 4-116, Mérida, Yucatán 97100, Mexico

(Received 2 June 2003; revised 30 January 2004; accepted 19 February 2004)

Abstract - The duration of the development phases of workers, males and gynes was studied in Melipona beecheii, an economically important stingless bee species in southern Mexico. We also determined if gynes and male cells were distributed in clusters on the combs as in other Melipona where laying workers exist. The results showed that the total length of development for the workers was 52.72 ± 1.28 days. In the case of the gynes and males, it was 50.80 (± 1.52) and 53.43 (± 1.12) days, respectively. We found that clustering of male cells in M. beecheii was an uncommon occurrence. We suggest that the main factor explaining the reduced frequency of male cell clusters is that males are not worker-produced in this species, compared to other species of Melipona in which males are worker-produced. Factors related to pollen availability could determine the presence of clustered males in some colonies of this species.

Key words: stingless bees / Melipona / caste ontogeny / drone production / gyne production

Corresponding author: José Javier G. Quezada-Euán

© INRA, EDP Sciences, DIB, AGIB 2004