Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 61, Issue 6, pp 887–897 | Cite as

The effect of ambient temperature on forager sound production and thoracic temperature in the stingless bee, Melipona panamica

Original Paper


Foragers of the stingless bees genus Melipona may produce intranidal sounds that are correlated with food location and quality. In this study, we provide the first detailed analysis of pulsed sounds produced by Melipona panamica foragers while feeding on a carbohydrate food source. We trained foragers to a 2.5-M sucrose feeder under normal, ambient temperature (23–33°C) and lower temperature (11–25°C) conditions. We recorded forager sounds under both conditions and tested the effect of temperature of the thorax, feeder plate, and air on sound temporal characteristics. Forager energetic expenditure and the number of pulses per visit were significantly higher in the cold condition than in the normal condition. Foragers spent a longer time at the feeder under the cold condition than during the normal condition. Interpulse durations were significantly shorter in the cold condition than in the normal condition and became progressively and significantly shorter at the end of each performance. Thus, pulse production increased before departure. Foragers increased their thoracic temperatures above ambient at all experimental air temperatures. Under chilled conditions, foragers had a significantly greater difference between thorax temperature and ambient air temperature than under normal conditions. Foragers must achieve a minimum flight muscle temperature before take-off, and thus forager sounds may be linked to muscle warm-up.


Thoracic temperature Stingless bees Sound production Foraging Flight warm-up 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Section of Ecology, Behavior, and Evolution, Division of Biological SciencesUniversity of California San DiegoSan DiegoUSA

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