Open Access
Volume 37, Number 2, March-April 2006
Stingless bees: biology and management
Page(s) 175 - 190
Published online 22 June 2006
Apidologie 37 (2006) 175-190
DOI: 10.1051/apido:2006018

Division of labor during brood production in stingless bees with special reference to individual participation

Olga Inés Cepeda

Columbia Basin College, Science and Math Department, Pasco, WA 99301, USA

(Received 31 October 2005 - revised 26 January 2006 - accepted 15 February 2006 - published online 22 June 2006)

Abstract - The focus of this paper is the process for brood production known as the Provisioning and Oviposition Process (POP), and particularly the individual behavior observed in the facultatively polygynous stingless bee Melipona bicolor. Following individually marked bees revealed that ovarian development is correlated with individual behavior differences. While most of the eggs laid by workers are consumed by the queen (trophic eggs), workers contribute significantly in male production with reproductive eggs, illustrating the reproductive conflict at the individual level. From an evolutionary outlook, "benefactor" behaviors may evolve if workers conserve the "hope" of reproduction. This indicates that an important function of trophic eggs is to keep the ovaries active. It is also possible that ovary development represents an internal factor promoting division of labor: reproductive workers are specialized or elite bees with low response thresholds and high activity levels that restrain the participation of other workers.

Key words: stingless bees / division of labor / POP / Melipona bicolor / reproductive competition / Apidae

© INRA, DIB-AGIB, EDP Sciences 2006