Free Access
Volume 37, Number 3, May-June 2006
Page(s) 366 - 375
Published online 23 February 2006
Apidologie 37 (2006) 366-375
DOI: 10.1051/apido:2006001

The use of food source scent marks by the stingless bee Trigona corvina (Hymenoptera: Apidae): the importance of the depositor's identity

Neeltje Janna Boogerta, Frouke Elisabeth Hofstedea and Ingrid Aguilar Mongeb

a  Utrecht University, Department of Behavioural Biology, Tropical Bee Research Unit, PO Box 80.086, 3508 TB Utrecht, The Netherlands
b  Universidad Nacional Costa Rica, Centro de Investigaciones Apícolas Tropicales, PO Box 475 - 3000, Heredia, Costa Rica, Centroamérica

(Received 18 August 2005 - revised 13 September 2005 - accepted 14 September 2005 - published online 23 February 2006)

Abstract - The deposition and use of scent marks on food sources has been found in foraging solitary bees, bumblebees, stingless bees and honeybees. The widespread existence of this communication mechanism points to its ecological significance. The importance of the depositor's identity on the use of food source scent marks, however, has never been systematically investigated in the same bee species. Here we present strong evidence that individual foragers of the stingless bee species Trigona corvina scent marked a high quality food source and that they used their own scent marks to relocate it in choice experiments. T. corvina foragers showed a similar significant preference for a food source scent marked by their nest mates and by bees from a conspecific colony over a non-scent marked food source. However, no evidence for the use of scent marks deposited by other stingless bee species was found. The implications of these findings for the evolution of food source scent marking in bees are discussed.

Key words: scent mark / food source / depositor / stingless bee / Trigona / chemical communication

Corresponding author: Neeltje Janna Boogert

© INRA, DIB-AGIB, EDP Sciences 2006