Free Access
Volume 31, Number 1, January-Febuary 2000
Page(s) 81 - 91
DOI: 10.1051/apido:2000108

Apidologie 31 (2000) 81-91

Recruitment behavior in stingless bees, Melipona scutellaris and M. quadrifasciata. I. Foraging at food sources differing in direction and distance

Stefan Jarau ${^{\rm a}}$, Michael Hrncir ${^{\rm a}}$, Ronaldo Zucchi ${^{\rm b}}$, Friedrich G. Barth ${^{\rm a}}$

${^{\rm a}}$Universität Wien, Biozentrum, Institut für Zoologie, Abteilung Physiologie - Neurobiologie, Althanstraße 14, A-1090 Wien, Austria
${^{\rm b}}$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)


The two stingless bee species Melipona scutellaris and M. quadrifasciata recruit nestmates to a rich foraging site. We tested this with feeders up to 140 m away from the hive. Foragers of M. scutellaris communicated direction (up to 140 m) more accurately than distance (up to 30 m) whereas those of M. quadrifasciata communicated direction only up to 30 m and distance up to 40 m. Our data indicate that in both species recruitment is divided into two temporal phases. Whereas in an initial phase alarmed nestmates search for food at random, bees leaving the hive in the following phase are obviously provided with information about its specific location. As a consequence after 35 minutes (M. scutellaris) and 85 minutes (M. quadrifasciata), respectively, significantly more newcomers arrive at the feeder than at an identical control feeder. The differences found in the recruitment success of M. scutellaris and M. quadrifasciata are discussed in regard to the different demands of their natural habitats.

stingless bee / foraging / recruitment / direction and distance communication / Melipona species

Correspondence and reprints: Friedrich G. Barth

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