Insectes Sociaux

, Volume 35, Issue 4, pp 341–354 | Cite as

Observations on the behaviours of three European cuckoo bumble bee species (Psithyrus)

  • R. M. Fisher


Females of three European species of cuckoo bumble bees (P. bohemicus, P. vestalis, andP. campestris) were introduced into free-foraging laboratory colonies of theirBombus hosts (B. locorum, B. Terrestris andB. pascuorum, respectively). The colony development of one successfully parasitized colony of each bumble bee species was studied.Psithyrus females cohabited with host queens and workers, but monopolized brood development through oophagy, larval ejection and the attempted dominance of host bees. SomePsithyrus brood also was destroyed, and host bees in all three colonies were successful in rearing reproductive offspring. Prolonged social contact betweenPsithyrus females and their hosts, and the possibility of host reproduction in parasitized colonies, suggest that there is considerable opportunity for coevolutionary complexity inBombus-Psithyrus relationships.


Social Contact Nous Avons European Species Colony Development Laboratory Coloni 
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Observations sur le comportement reproducteur de trois espèces de bourdons «coucou» européens (Psithyrus)


Nous avons introduit des femelles de trois espèces européennes (P. bohemicus, P. vestalis etP. compestris) dans des colonies de laboratoire de leur hôteBombus (B. lucorum, B. terrestris etB. pascuorum) pouvant fourrager librement. Pour chaque espèce de bourdon, nous avons étudié le développement d'une colonie, où des parasites avaient été introduits avec succès. Les femellesPsithyrus ont cohabité avec les reines et les ouvrières hôtes, mais ont monopolisé le développement du couvain à travers l'oophagie, l'expulsion des larves, et les tentatives de dominer les bourdons hôtes. Une partie du couvainPsithyrus a été détruite aussi, et les bourdons hôtes des trois colonies ont réussi à élever du couvain de reproducteurs. Les contacts sociaux prolongés entre les femallesPsithyrus et leurs hôtes, ainsi que la possibilité de reproduction de l'hôte au sein des colonies parasitées semblent indiquer que des complexités coévolutives dans les rapportsBombus-Psithyrus ne sont pas rares.


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Copyright information

© Masson 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. M. Fisher
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of ZoologyOxfordUK

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