Free Access
Volume 36, Number 3, July-September 2005
Page(s) 313 - 324
Published online 01 June 2005
Apidologie 36 (2005) 313-324
DOI: 10.1051/apido:2005005

Recruitment and communication of food source location in three species of stingless bees (Hymenoptera, Apidae, Meliponini)

Ingrid Aguilara, Alicia Fonsecaa and Jacobus C. Biesmeijerb

a  Centro de Investigaciones Apícolas Tropicales, Universidad Nacional, PO Box, 475-3000 Heredia, Costa Rica
b  School of Biology University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, UK

(Received 26 July 2004 - Revised 28 September 2004 - Accepted 28 September 2004; Published online: 1 June 2005)

Abstract - This study reports on controlled experiments of the recruitment behavior and location communication in three species of stingless bee Trigona corvina, Plebeia tica and Trigona (Tetragonisca) angustula. We trained bees to a sugar water feeder at 50 m and placed identical control feeders either at different distances or in different directions with respect to the nest. Both the distance and direction of the food source were communicated very accurately in T. corvina. In P. tica and T. angustula the direction of the food source was communicated. In the distance experiments with P. tica, newcomers arrived mostly at the food source nearest to the nest. Only when the control feeder had a different odor than the experimental feeder did most recruits find the experimental feeder. We found that experienced foragers of T. corvina and P. tica guide recruits to the food source by means of pilot flights. We discuss the potential mechanisms that these species may use for location communication and the implications of these differences for resource partitioning.

Key words: communication / recruitment / pilot flights / stingless bees / Trigona / Plebeia

Corresponding author: Ingrid Aguilar

© INRA, DIB-AGIB, EDP Sciences 2005