, Volume 94, Issue 7, pp 567–573 | Cite as

Experience, but not distance, influences the recruitment precision in the stingless bee Scaptotrigona mexicana

  • Daniel Sánchez
  • F. Bernhard Kraus
  • Manuel de Jesús Hernández
  • Rémy Vandame
Original Paper


Recruitment precision, i.e. the proportion of recruits that reach an advertised food source, is a crucial adaptation of social bees to their environment. Studies with honeybees showed that recruitment precision is not a fixed feature, but it may be enhanced by factors like experience and distance. However, little is known regarding the recruitment precision of stingless bees. Hence, in this study, we examined the effects of experience and spatial distance on the precision of the food communication system of the stingless bee Scaptotrigona mexicana. We conducted the experiments by training bees to a three-dimensional artificial patch at several distances from the colony. We recorded the choices of individual recruited foragers, either being newcomers (foragers without experience with the advertised food source) or experienced (foragers that had previously visited the feeder). We found that the average precision of newcomers (95.6 ± 2.61%) was significantly higher than that of experienced bees (80.2 ± 1.12%). While this might seem counter-intuitive on first sight, this “loss” of precision can be explained by the tendency of experienced recruits to explore nearby areas to find new rewarding food sources after they had initially learned the exact location of the food source. Increasing the distance from the colony had no significant effect on the precision of the foraging bees. Thus, our data show that experience, but not the distance of the food source, affected the patch precision of S. mexicana foragers.


Stingless bee Communication system Recruitment Three-dimensional precision 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniel Sánchez
    • 1
  • F. Bernhard Kraus
    • 1
  • Manuel de Jesús Hernández
    • 1
  • Rémy Vandame
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.El Colegio de la Frontera SurTapachulaMexico
  2. 2.INRA-UMR InnovationMontpellierFrance

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