Advertisement

Journal of Comparative Physiology A

, Volume 190, Issue 3, pp 233–239 | Cite as

A stingless bee uses labial gland secretions for scent trail communication (Trigona recursa Smith 1863)

  • S. JarauEmail author
  • M. Hrncir
  • R. Zucchi
  • F. G. Barth
Original Paper

Abstract

The pheromones used by several species of stingless bees for scent trail communication are generally assumed to be produced by the mandibular glands. Here we present strong evidence that in Trigona recursa these pheromones originate from the labial glands, which are well developed in the heads of foragers. Analysis of the behavior involved in scent marking shows that a bee extends her proboscis and rubs it over the substrate. A single scent marking event lasts for 0.59±0.21 s while the bee runs a stretch of 1.04±0.37 cm on a leaf. According to choice experiments the bees are attracted by a feeder baited with labial gland extract (84.2±6% of the bees choose this feeder) but repelled from a feeder baited with mandibular gland extract (only 27.5±13.1% of the bees choose this feeder). They do not discriminate between two clean feeders (49.6±3% of the bees at a feeder). 87±5.1% of bees already feeding leave the feeder after the application of mandibular gland extract whereas only 6.2±4.9% and 2.6±4% do so when labial gland extract or pure solvent was applied.

Keywords

Chemical communication Labial glands Scent trails Stingless bees Trigona 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We are very grateful to Sidnei Mateus for his valuable help in finding and collecting the bee nests in Pedregulho. This study was supported by grant P-14328 of the Austrian Science Foundation (FWF) to F.G.B. This work complies with the current laws of Brazil where the experiments were carried out.

References

  1. Bergman P, Bergström G (1997) Scent marking, scent origin, and species specificity in male premating behavior of two Scandinavian bumblebees. J Chem Ecol 23:1235–1251Google Scholar
  2. Biesmeijer JC, Vries H de (2001) Exploration and exploitation of food sources by social insect colonies: a revision of the scout-recruit concept. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 49:89–99CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Blum MS, Brand JM (1972) Social insect pheromones: their chemistry and function. Am Zool 12:553–576Google Scholar
  4. Blum MS, Crewe RM, Kerr WE, Keith LH, Garrison AW, Walker MM (1970) Citral in stingless bees: isolation and functions in trail-laying and robbing. J Insect Physiol 16:1637–1648PubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Cruz Landim C da (1967) Estudo comparativo de algumas glândulas das abelhas (Hymenoptera, Apoidea) e respectivas implicações evolutivas. Arq Zool S Paulo15:177–290Google Scholar
  6. Esch H (1967) Die Bedeutung der Lauterzeugung für die Verständigung der stachellosen Bienen. Z Vergl Physiol 56:199–220Google Scholar
  7. Jarau S, Hrncir M, Schmidt VM, Zucchi R, Barth FG (2003) Effectiveness of recruitment behavior in stingless bees (Apidae, Meliponini). Insectes Soc 50:365–374Google Scholar
  8. Johnson LK (1987) Communication of food source location by the stingless bee Trigona fulviventris. In: Eder J, Rembold H (eds.) Chemistry and biology of social insects. Peperny, München, pp 698–699Google Scholar
  9. Johnson LK, Wiemer DF (1982) Nerol: an alarm substance of the stingless bee, Trigona fulviventris (Hymenoptera: Apidae). J Chem Ecology 8:1167–1181Google Scholar
  10. Johnson LK, Haynes LW, Carlson MA, Fortnum HA, Gorgas DL (1985) Alarm substances of the stingless bee, Trigona silvestriana. J Chem Ecology 11:409–416Google Scholar
  11. Keeping MG, Crewe RM, Field BI (1982) Mandibular gland secretions of the old world stingless bee, Trigona gribodoi Magretti: isolation, identification, and compositional changes with age. J Apic Res 21:65–73Google Scholar
  12. Kerr WE, Costa Cruz C da (1961) Funções diferentes tomadas pela glândula mandibular na evolução das abelhas em geral e em “Trigona (Oxytrigona) tataira” em especial. Rev Brasil Biol 21:1–16Google Scholar
  13. Kerr WE, Esch H (1965) Comunicação entre as abelhas sociais brasileiras e sua contribuição para o entendimento da sua evolução. Ciên Cult (Sao Paolo) 17:529–538Google Scholar
  14. Kerr WE, Ferreira A, Mattos NS de (1963) Communication among stingless bees—additional data (Hymenoptera: Apidae). J N Y Entomol Soc 71:80–90Google Scholar
  15. Kerr WE, Blum M, Fales HM (1981) Communication of food source between workers of Trigona (Trigona) spinipes. Rev Brasil Biol 41:619–613Google Scholar
  16. Korte M de, Weissenbacher KH, Crewe RM (1988) Chemical signals in a stingless bee Trigona (Meliplebeia) denoiti Vachal (Hymenoptera: Apidae: Meliponinae). J Entomol Soc South Afr 51:9–16Google Scholar
  17. Kullenberg B, Bergström G, Bringer B, Carlberg B, Cederberg B (1973) Observations on scent marking by Bombus Latr. and Psithyrus Lep. males (Hym., Apidae) and localization of site of production of the secretion. Zoon [Suppl] 1:23–30Google Scholar
  18. Lindauer M, Kerr WE (1958) Die gegenseitige Verständigung bei den stachellosen Bienen. Z Vergl Physiol 41:405–434Google Scholar
  19. Lindauer M, Kerr WE (1960) Communication between the workers of stingless bees. Bee World 41:29–41, 65–71Google Scholar
  20. Luby JM, Regnier FE, Clarke ET, Weaver EC, Weaver N (1973) Volatile cephalic substances of the stingless bees, Trigona mexicana and Trigona pectoralis. J Insect Physiol 19:1111–1127CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Michener CD (1974) The Social behavior of the bees: a comparative study. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MassachusettsGoogle Scholar
  22. Michener CD (2000) The bees of the world. Johns Hopkins University Press, BaltimoreGoogle Scholar
  23. Nieh JC, Contrera FAL, Nogueira-Neto P (2003) Pulsed mass recruitment by a stingless bee, Trigona hyalinata. Proc R Soc London Ser B 270:2191–2196CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Noll FB (2002) Behavioral phylogeny of corbiculate Apidae (Hymenoptera; Apinae), with special reference to social behavior. Cladistics 18:137–153CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Roubik DW (1989) Ecology and natural history of tropical bees. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  26. Schmidt VM, Zucchi R, Barth FG (2003) A stingless bee marks the feeding site in addition to the scent path (Scaptotrigona aff. depilis Moure 1942). Apidologie 34:237–248CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Silva de Moraes RLM (2002) Glândulas salivares do adulto. In: Cruz Landim C da, Camargo Abdalla F (eds) Glândulas Exócrinas das Abelhas. FUNPEC—Editora, Ribeirão Preto São Paulo, pp 51–70Google Scholar
  28. Simpson J, Riedel IBM (1964) Discharge and manipulation of labial gland secretion by workers of Apis mellifera (L.) (Hymenoptera: Apidae). Proc R Entomol Soc London Ser A 39:76–82Google Scholar
  29. Smith BH, Roubik DW (1983) Mandibular glands of stingless bees (Hymenoptera: Apidae): chemical analysis of their contents and biological function in two species of Melipona. J Chem Ecol 9:1465–1472Google Scholar
  30. Weaver N, Weaver EC, Clarke ET (1975) Reactions of five species of stingless bees to some volatile chemicals and to other species of bees. J Insect Physiol 21:479–494CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Wilson EO (1965) Chemical communication in the social insects. Science 149:1064–1071Google Scholar
  32. Wilson EO (1971) The insect societies. Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MassachusettsGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Biocenter, Institute of ZoologyUniversity of ViennaViennaAustria
  2. 2.Department of Experimental EcologyUniversity of UlmUlmGermany
  3. 3.FFCLRP, Department of BiologyUniversity of São PauloRibeirão PretoBrazil

Personalised recommendations