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Insectes Sociaux

, Volume 55, Issue 4, pp 387–391 | Cite as

Nest defence in a stingless bee: What causes fighting swarms in Trigona carbonaria (Hymenoptera, Meliponini)?

  • R. Gloag
  • T. A. Heard
  • M. Beekman
  • B. P. Oldroyd
Research article

Abstract.

The Australian stingless bee Trigona carbonaria sometimes displays a striking collective behaviour, known as a ‘fighting swarm’ in which thousands of workers fight and die. Molecular analysis of eight naturally-occurring fights showed they almost always comprise just two colonies, one of which is located within 2 m of the fight. Fighting swarms were experimentally triggered by manipulating colonies so that they received non-nestmate workers. Combined, our investigations suggest that T. carbonaria fighting swarms arise as a collective defence of the nest from conspecific invasion (e.g. robbery or nest usurpation)

Keywords:

Defence robbery nest usurpation nestmate recognition 

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Copyright information

© Birkhaeuser 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. Gloag
    • 1
  • T. A. Heard
    • 2
  • M. Beekman
    • 1
  • B. P. Oldroyd
    • 1
  1. 1.Behaviour and Genetics of Social Insects LaboratorySchool of Biological Sciences A12 University of SydneySydneyAustralia
  2. 2.CSIRO Division of EntomologyLong Pocket LaboratoriesIndooroopillyAustralia

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