Free Access
Volume 37, Number 6, November-December 2006
Page(s) 653 - 664
Published online 29 November 2006
Apidologie 37 (2006) 653-664
DOI: 10.1051/apido:2006046

Size variation and egg laying performance in Plebeia remota queens (Hymenoptera, Apidae, Meliponini)

Márcia de Fátima Ribeiroa, b, Pérsio de Souza Santos-Filhoa and Vera Lúcia Imperatriz-Fonsecaa

a  Laboratório de Abelhas, Depto. de Ecologia, Instituto de Biociências, Universidade de São Paulo, R. do Matão, trav. 14, n. 321, 05508-900 São Paulo, SP, Brazil
b  Present address: Depto. de Zootecnia, Universidade Federal do Ceará - UFC, Bloco 809 Campus do PICI, 60021-970 Fortaleza, CE, Brazil

(Received 2 September 2005 - Revised 2 January 2006 - Accepted 9 January 2006 - published online 29 November 2006)

Abstract - Stingless bees may produce both large queens and "miniature" queens, but the adaptive significance of this is uncertain. Using biometry and statistical analysis we determined the proportion of miniature queens in Plebeia remota that were either mated (14%) or virgin (45%). Mated queens were mostly normal-sized which indicated that they were more successful. Nevertheless, the presence of miniature mated queens heading colonies confirmed that they also are viable. The egg-laying capacity of mated queens of different sizes was determined using colony exchange experiments. The results showed that egg laying is not influenced by size differences. Therefore, miniature mated queens may be as successful in laying eggs as normal-sized queens. Finally we discuss some ultimate hypotheses for why miniature queens are produced.

Key words: queen size variation / miniature queen / egg laying / stingless bee / Plebeia remota

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© INRA, DIB-AGIB, EDP Sciences 2006