Insectes Sociaux

, Volume 61, Issue 2, pp 183–190

Seasonal nest characteristics of a facultatively social orchid bee, Euglossa viridissima, in the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico

  • W. de J. May-Itzá
  • L. A. Medina Medina
  • S. Medina
  • R. J. Paxton
  • J. J. G. Quezada-Euán
Research Article


Euglossines have long been regarded as largely solitary, though some species are known to exhibit social behavior. We studied the nesting behavior of Euglossa viridissima over an annual cycle, comparing sociality and offspring production across the rainy (RS) and dry seasons (DS) in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico. Nests were built in both the RS and the DS, but with greater nest initiation and brood provisioning in the RS, presumably as a consequence of more floral resources at this time of year. Across the year, numerical sex ratios were female biased (0.7 as females/total); sex ratios varied across individual nests from 0.3 to 1.00, though without a clear relationship to sociality. Egg-to-adult development was quicker in females than males and, within a sex, quicker when ambient temperatures were higher. Multi-female (social) nests were only founded at the end of the RS and the beginning of the DS, coincided with the presence of Hymenopteran and Dipteran parasites in nests headed by solitary females. Reduced floral resources and a higher risk of parasitism, possibly coupled with higher female density or reduced nesting sites, may be factors favoring the formation of multi-female associations in this euglossine. Better nourishment of foundress females in the RS may improve lifespan and permit overlapping generations which, coupled with the kin structure of their nests, may favor social nesting in E. viridissima.


Euglossa Nesting biology Seasonality Sex ratio Ontogenetic development 


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Copyright information

© International Union for the Study of Social Insects (IUSSI) 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • W. de J. May-Itzá
    • 1
  • L. A. Medina Medina
    • 1
  • S. Medina
    • 2
  • R. J. Paxton
    • 3
  • J. J. G. Quezada-Euán
    • 1
  1. 1.Departamento de Apicultura Tropical, Campus de Ciencias Biológicas y AgropecuariasUniversidad Autónoma de YucatánMéridaMexico
  2. 2.Facultad de Matemáticas, Campus de Ingenierías y Ciencias ExactasUniversidad Autónoma de YucatánMéridaMexico
  3. 3.Institute for BiologyMartin-Luther-University Halle-WittenbergHalle (Saale)Germany

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