Free access
Volume 36, Number 2, April-June 2005
the neglected gender - males in bees
Page(s) 169 - 185
Published online 01 June 2005
Apidologie 36 (2005) 169-185
DOI: 10.1051/apido:2005014

The males of Melipona and other stingless bees, and their mothers

Hayo H.W. Velthuisa, Dirk Koedamb and Vera L. Imperatriz-Fonsecab

a  Klemit 1, 5325 KG Wellseind, The Netherlands
b  Laboratório de Abelhas, Depto. de Ecologia, Instituto de Biociências, USP, Rua do Matão, Trav. 14, No. 321, CEP 05508-900, São Paulo, Brazil

(Received 4 November 2004 - Revised 7 January 2005 - Accepted 17 January 2005; Published online: 1 June 2005)

Abstract - Female behaviour in social Hymenoptera and the queen-worker conflict with respect to male production have been the focus of many studies. Although male production is an investment that is in conflict with investment in colony size, males play a vital role in colony reproduction. This paper reviews the production patterns of male stingless bees, their activities once they have reached adulthood and their origin (i.e., are they sons of workers or of queens). The existence of a broad spectrum of species-specific patterns of male production, sex ratios, and male parentage offers ample opportunities to discuss the influence of ecology on the dynamics of stingless bee colony life. The paper also argues that selfishness causes the queen and the workers to compete and each to adopt certain strategies in their effort to produce male progeny. It is this competition, expressed in various forms during the characteristic and socially complex process of cell provisioning and oviposition, that could help explain the variable outcomes of male parentage at the species level as we currently know them.

Key words: stingless bee male / sex ratio / life history / male aggregation / queen-worker conflict / provisioning and oviposition process

Corresponding author: Hayo H.W. Velthuis

© INRA, DIB-AGIB, EDP Sciences 2005