Open Access
Volume 37, Number 2, March-April 2006
Stingless bees: biology and management
Page(s) 164 - 174
Published online 22 June 2006
Apidologie 37 (2006) 164-174
DOI: 10.1051/apido:2006024

Class III glands in the abdomen of Meliponini

Carminda da Cruz-Landim, Fábio Camargo Abdalla and Luciana Fioretti Gracioli-Vitti

Departamento de Biologia, Instituto de Biociências, Universidade Estadual Paulista, UNESP, 13506-900 Rio Claro, SP, Brazil

(Received 31 October 2005 - revised 15 February 2006 - accepted 28 February 2006 - published online 22 June 2006)

Abstract - Class III tegumentar glands were studied in workers, as well as in queens and males when available, of 56 Meliponini species. The presence and development of these glands varies widely among and within species. However, the queen typically has more glands than do workers, and males rarely have any. Gland development in workers was evaluated by counting and determining the size of cells in histological sections. Laying queens were found to have more active gland cells than did virgins. Cell numbers and cell ultrastructure differed among glands similarly located in workers, queens and males. Cell size and ultrastructure also varied from tergite to tergite. In conclusion, since it is likely that most of them produce pheromones, the wide variability in these glands suggests that they are important to social interaction.

Key words: stingless bee / tergal gland / histology / ultrastructure / worker / queen / male

© INRA, DIB-AGIB, EDP Sciences 2006