Free Access
Volume 38, Number 6, November-December 2007
Page(s) 584 - 594
Published online 19 February 2008
Apidologie 38 (2007) 584-594
DOI: 10.1051/apido:2007054

Effect of forager-deposited odors on the intra-patch accuracy of recruitment of the stingless bees Melipona panamica and Partamona peckolti (Apidae, Meliponini)

Felipe Andrés León Contrera and James C. Nieh

University of California San Diego, Division of Biological Sciences, Section of Ecology, Behavior, and Evolution, Mail Code 0116, 9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, CA 92093-0116, USA

(Received 24 July 2007 - Revised and Accepted 2 October 2007 - Published online 19 February 2008)

Abstract - We show that the stingless bees Melipona panamica and Partamona peckolti have a high precision of intra-patch recruitment that is influenced by forager-deposited odor marks in the field. We trained foragers to a 2.5 M sucrose feeder in the center of an array of five identical feeders (20 cm between feeders) at different distances and directions from the nest and measured the distribution of recruit visitations. In the free-foraging phase foragers could odor mark a filter paper around the experimental feeder, and in the odor-removal phase we substituted it each five minutes by a clean one. Significantly more recruits in both species chose the experimental feeder over the controls in the distance and directional arrays (P $\leq$ 0.034) and odor removal significantly decreased precision of recruitment in both species (P $\leq$ 0.034). Scent marks in both species thus play a significant role in orienting recruits to already known profitable food sources.

Key words: odor marking / recruitment / stingless bees / intra-patch precision / Meliponini

© INRA, DIB-AGIB, EDP Sciences 2008