Free Access
Volume 34, Number 4, July-August 2003
Page(s) 321 - 331
Apidologie 34 (2003) 321-331
DOI: 10.1051/apido:2003035

Nest construction and architecture of the Amazonian bumble bee (Hymenoptera: Apidae)

Olivia Mariko Taylora and Sydney A. Cameronb

a  Department of Biology, University of Victoria, PO Box 1700 STN CSC Victoria, BC, V8W 2Y2 Canada
b  Department of Entomology, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, 320 Morrill Hall, 505 S. Goodwin Ave., Urbana, IL 61801, USA

(Received 8 February 2002; revised and accepted 1 November 2002)

The Amazonian bumble bee, Bombus transversalis, is mostly restricted to tropical rain forest of the Amazon Basin. Little is known of its biology, in part because its surface nests are cryptic and hard to find. Here we examine nest site characteristics, nest architecture and construction behavior from 16 colonies observed in different regions of Amazonia. We quantify structural features of the nest habitat and external and internal characteristics of the nests. We ascertain that nests are constructed on terra firme, on the surface of the ground and incorporate elements of growing vegetation as physical support. Nests consist of a thatched canopy of tightly woven leaves and rootlets, beneath which lies the brood and food storage pots. To build the nest, workers cut and transport leaves from the surrounding forest floor. Nests are dry inside, despite torrential rainfall and external relative humidity levels near 100%. Nests may be reused although a colony appears to persist for only one season.

Key words: corbiculate bees / Bombus transversalis / neotropics / leaf-cutting behavior / adaptation / colony life cycle

Correspondence and reprints: Sydney A. Cameron

© INRA, EDP Sciences, DIB, AGIB 2003