Predatory behavior in a necrophagous bee Trigona hypogea (Hymenoptera; Apidae, Meliponini)
- 264 Downloads
Although most bees feed on nectar and pollen, several exceptions have been reported. The strangest of all is the habit found in some neotropical stingless bees, which have completely replaced pollen-eating by eating animal protein from corpses. For more than 20 years, it was believed that carrion was the only protein source for these bees. We report that these bees feed not only off dead animals, but on the living brood of social wasps and possibly other similar sources. Using well developed prey location and foraging behaviors, necrophagous bees discover recently abandoned wasps’ nests and, within a few hours, prey upon all immatures found there.
KeywordsRoyal Jelly Scent Mark Social Wasp Larval Tissue Trail Scent
We thank Kurt M. Pickett, Dave Roubik, John Wenzel, Ronaldo Zucchi, and three anonymous reviewers for suggestions on the manuscript. Financial support was from FAPESP (Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo); grant no 01/02491-4 and CNPq.
- Camargo JMF, Roubik DW (1991) Systematics and bionomics of the apoid obligate necrophages: the Trigona hypogea group (Hymenoptera: Apidae, Meliponinae). J Linn Soc 44:13–39Google Scholar
- Michener CD (2000) The bees of the world. John Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, Md.Google Scholar
- Noll FB (1997) Foraging behavior on carcasses in the necrophagic bee Trigona hypogea (Hymenoptera: Apidae). J Insect Behav 10 463–467Google Scholar
- Noll FB, Zucchi R, Jorge JA, Mateus S (1997) Food collection and maturation in the necrophagous stingless bee, Trigona hypogea (Hymenoptera, Meliponinae). J Kans Entomol Soc 69:287–293 (suppl)Google Scholar
- Roubik DW (1982) Obligate necrophagy in a social bee. Science 217:1059–1060Google Scholar
- Wenzel JW (1991) The evolution of nest architecture. In: Ross KG, Matthews RW (eds) The social biology of wasps. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, N.Y., pp 480–519Google Scholar