Insectes Sociaux

, Volume 64, Issue 4, pp 567–578 | Cite as

The effect of food profitability on foraging behaviors and vibrational signals in the African stingless bee Plebeina hildebrandti

Research Article

Abstract

The study of stingless bee foraging strategies and communication about food sources focused mainly on neotropical species. African stingless bees have received much less attention by researchers. Our study aims to fill this gap and, therefore, focuses on the African stingless bee Plebeina hildebrandti. Food profitability appears to influence various aspects of the foraging process in stingless bees. To study the effect of food profitability on the foraging process, we trained foragers to artificial feeders containing different food qualities and studied the individual foraging process with respect to food uptake, foraging cycles, as well as food transfer to nestmates. Our results indicate that foragers of P. hildebrandti adjust foraging behaviors according to the food profitability in a way that may increase colony’s efficiency. Furthermore, we studied the influence of different food qualities on the vibrational signals produced by foragers during food transfer. Signal duration, pulse duration, and duty cycle appear to be adjusted according to the food quality, i.e., profitability. We measured the duration potential recruits which have direct contact to the forager and asked whether this time is long enough to gain profitability information from the vibrational signals. The informational value of the vibrational signals is discussed.

Keywords

Stingless bees Foraging Trophallaxis Vibrational communication Food profitability Food quality 

References

  1. Aguilar I, Briceño D (2002) Sounds in Melipona costaricensis (Apidae: Meliponini): effect of sugar concentration and nectar source distance. Apidologie 33:375–388CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Barth FG, Hrncir M, Jarau S (2008) Signals and cues in the recruitment behavior of stingless bees (Meliponini). J Comp Physiol A 194:313–327CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Carrijo TF, Gonçalves RB, Santos RG (2012) Review of bees as guests in termite nests, with a new record of the communal bee, Geasochira aabscura (Smith, 1879) (Hymenoptera, Apidae), in nests of Anoplotermes banksi Emerson, 1925 (Isoptera, Termitidae, Apicotermitinae). Insect Soc 59:141–149CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Čokl A, Virant-Doberlet M (2003) Communication with substrate-borne signals in small plant-dwelling insects. Annu Rev Entomol 48:29–50CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. de Bruijn LLM, Sommeijer MJ (1997) Colony foraging in different species of stingless bees (Apidae, Meliponinae) and the regulation of individual nectar foraging. Insect Soc 44:35–47CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. De Marco RJ, Farina WM (2001) Changes in food source profitability affect the trophallactic behavior of forager honeybees (Apis mellifera). Behav Ecol Sociobiol 50:441–449CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Eardley C (2004) Taxonomic revision of the African stingless bees (Apoidea: Apidae: Apinae: Meliponini). Afr Plant Prot 10:63–96Google Scholar
  8. Esch H (1967) Die Bedeutung der Lauterzeugung für die Verständigung der stachellosen Bienen. Z vergl Physiol 56:199–220CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Esch H, Esch I, Kerr WE (1965) Sound: An element common to communication of stingless bees and to dances of the honey bee. Science 149:320–321CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Farina WM, Grüter C (2009) Trophallaxis: a mechanism of information transfer. In: Jarau S, Hrncir M (eds) Food exploitation by social insects: an ecological, behavioral, and theoretical approach. CRC Press, Boca Raton, pp 173–187Google Scholar
  11. Farina WM, Wainselboim AJ (2001) Thermographic recordings show that honeybees may receive nectar from foragers even during short trophallactic contacts. Insect Soc 48:360–362CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Farina WM, Grüter C, Acosta L, McCabe S (2007) Honeybees learn floral odors while receiving nectar from foragers within the hive. Naturwissenschaften 94:55–60CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Gil M, De Marco RJ (2005) Olfactory learning by means of trophallaxis in Apis mellifera. J Exp Biol 208:671–680CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Hart AG, Ratnieks FLW (2002) Task-partitioned nectar transfer in stingless bees: work organization in a phylogenetic context. Ecol Entomol 27:163–168CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Henske J, Krausa K, Hager FA, Nkoba K, Kirchner WH (2015) Olfactory associative learning in two African stingless bee species (Meliponula ferruginea and M. bocandei, Meliponini). Insect Soc 62:507–516CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hrncir M, Barth FG (2014) Vibratory communication in stingless bees (Meliponini): the challenge of interpreting the signals. In: Cocroft RB, Gogala M, Hill PSM, Wessel A (eds) Studying vibrational communication. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg, pp 349–374Google Scholar
  17. Hrncir M, Jarau S, Zucchi R, Barth FG (2000) Recruitment behavior in stingless bees, Melipona scutellaris and M. quadrifasciata. II. Possible mechanisms of communication. Apidologie 31:93–113CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Hrncir M, Jarau S, Zucchi R, Barth FG (2004) Thorax vibrations of a stingless bee (Melipona seminigra). II. Dependence on sugar concentration. J Comp Physiol A 190:549–560Google Scholar
  19. Hrncir M, Barth FG, Tautz J (2006a) Vibratory and airborne-sound signals in bee communication (Hymenoptera). In: Drosopoulos S, Claridge MF (eds) Insect sound and communication—physiology, behaviour, ecology and evolution. CRC press, Taylor & Francis Group, Boca Raton, pp 421–436Google Scholar
  20. Hrncir M, Schmidt VM, Schorkopf DLP, Jarau S, Zucchi R, Barth FG (2006b) Vibrating the food receiver: a direct way of signal transmission in stingless bees (Melipona seminigra). J Comp Physiol A 192:879–887CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Hrncir M, Schorkopf DLP, Schmidt VM, Zucchi R, Barth FG (2008) The sound field generated by tethered stingless bees (Melipona scutellaris): inferences on its potential as a recruitment mechanism inside the hive. J Exp Biol 211:686–698CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Jarau S, Hrncir M, Zucchi R, Barth FG (2000) Recruitment behavior in stingless bees, Melipona scutellaris and M. quadrifasciata. I. Foraging at food sources differing in direction and distance. Apidologie 31:81–91CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Krausa K, Hager FA, Kiatoko N, Kirchner WH (2017) Vibrational signals of African stingless bees. Insect Soc 64:415–424CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Lakes-Harlan R, Strauß J (2014) Functional morphology and evolutionary diversity of vibration receptors in insects. In: Cocroft RB, Gogala M, Hill PSM, Wessel A (eds) Studying vibrational communication. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg, pp 277–302Google Scholar
  25. Lindauer M, Kerr WE (1958) Die gegenseitige Verständigung bei den stachellosen Bienen. Z vergl Physiol 41:405–434CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Mc Cabe SI, Hartfelder K, Santana WC, Farina WM (2007) Odor discrimination in classical conditioning of proboscis extension in two stingless bee species in comparison to Africanized honeybees. J Comp Physiol A 193:1089–1099CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Michener CD (2000) The bees of the world. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, p xiv+913Google Scholar
  28. Myers N, Mittermeier RA, Mittermeier CG, da Fonseca GAB, Kent J (2000) Biodiversity hotspots for conservation priorities. Nature 403:853–858CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. Namu FN, Wittmann D (2016) An African stingless bee Plebeina hildebrandti Friese nest size and design (Apidae, Meliponini). Afr J Ecol 55:111–114CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Nieh JC (1998) The food recruitment dance of the stingless bee, Melipona panamica. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 43:133–145CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Nieh JC (2004) Recruitment communication in stingless bees (Hymenoptera, Apidae, Meliponini). Apidologie 35:159–182CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Nieh JC, Roubik DW (1998) Potential mechanisms for the communication of height and distance by a stingless bee, Melipona panamica. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 43:387–399CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Nieh JC, Tautz J, Spaethe J, Bartareau T (1999/2000) The communication of food location by a primitive stingless bee, Trigona carbonaria. Zoology 102:238–246Google Scholar
  34. Nieh JC, Contrera FAL, Rangel J, Imperatriz-Fonseca VI (2003) Effect of food location and quality on recruitment sounds and success in two stingless bees, Melipona mandacaia and Melipona bicolor. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 55:87–94CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Núñez JA (1966) Quantitative Beziehungen zwischen den Eigenschaften von Futterquellen und dem Verhalten von Sammelbienen. Zeitschrift für vergl Physiologie 53:142–164Google Scholar
  36. Núñez JA (1982) Honeybee foraging strategies at a food source in relation to its distance from the hive and the rate of sugar flow. J Apic Res 21:139–150CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Pflumm W (1986) Rate of supply of sugar solution and behavior of collector wasps (Paravespula germanica). Ethol 72:15–21CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Reichle C, Aguilar I, Ayasse M, Jarau S (2011) Stingless bees (Scaptotrigona pectoralis) learn foreign trail pheromones and use them to find food. J Comp Physiol A 197:243–249CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Roselino AC, Hrncir M (2012) Repeated unrewarded scent exposure influences the food choice of stingless bee foragers, Melipona scutellaris. Anim Behav 83:755–762CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Schilman PE, Roces F (2003) Assessment of nectar flow rate and memory for patch quality in the ant Camponotus rufipes. Anim Behav 66:687–693CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Schmidt VM, Zucchi R, Barth FG (2006) Recruitment in a scent trail laying stingless bee (Scaptotrigona aff. depilis): Changes with reduction but not with increase of the energy gain. Apidologie 37:487–500CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Schmidt VM, Hrncir M, Schorkopf DLP, Mateus S, Zucchi R, Barth FG (2008) Food profitability affects intranidal recruitment behaviour in the stingless bee Nannotrigona testaceicornis. Apidologie 39:260–272CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Schorkopf DLP, Sá Filho GF, Maia-Silva C, Schorkopf M, Hrncir M, Barth FG (2016) Nectar profitability, not empty honey stores, stimulate recruitment and foraging in Melipona scutellaris (Apidae, Meliponini). J Comp Physiol A 202:709–722CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Sommeijer MJ, De Bruijn LM, van de Guchte C (1985) The social food-flow within the colony of a stingless bee, Melipona favosa (F.). Behaviour 92:39–58CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Tanner DA, Visscher PK (2008) Do honey bees average directions in the waggle dance to determine a flight direction? Behav Ecol Sociobiol 62:1891–1898CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Virant-Doberlet M, Čokl A (2004) Vibrational communication in insects. Neotrop Entomol 33:121–134CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. von Frisch K, Jander R (1957) Über den Schwänzeltanz der Bienen. Z vergl Physiol 40:239–263CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Wainselboim AJ, Farina WM (2000) Trophallaxis in filled-crop honeybees (Apis mellifera L.): food-loading time affects unloading behavior. Naturwissenschaften 87:280–282CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  49. Weast RC, Lide DR, Astle MJ, Beyer WH (eds) (1989) CRC Handbook of chemistry and physics 70th edn. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FloridaGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© International Union for the Study of Social Insects (IUSSI) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Biology and BiotechnologyRuhr University BochumBochumGermany
  2. 2.School of Agriculture Earth and Environmental SciencesTaita Taveta UniversityVoiKenya

Personalised recommendations