Insectes Sociaux

, Volume 65, Issue 2, pp 339–343 | Cite as

High levels of tolerance between nestmates and non-nestmates in the primitively eusocial sweat bee Halictus scabiosae (Rossi) in Turkey (Hymenoptera: Halictidae)

  • V. H. GonzalezEmail author
  • R. Patton
  • M. Plascencia
  • A. O. Girişgin
  • I. Çakmak
  • J. F. Barthell
Short Communication


Eusocial sweat bees with variable intra-colony relatedness due to multiple foundresses and/or worker drifting may express high levels of tolerance among non-nestmates. We used circle-tube arenas to test hypotheses related to this phenomenon in Halictus scabiosae (Rossi), an obligately eusocial species with frequent inter-nest worker drifting. We conducted experiments in mid-July with bees from a nest aggregation found on the Uludağ University campus, near the city of Bursa, in the Republic of Turkey. We recorded high frequencies of tolerant behaviors in both nestmate and non-nestmate trials. Among tolerant behaviors, mutual passing was more common in pairs of nestmates while non-aggressive contacts were more common in non-nestmate pairs. Moderate levels of aggression were frequent, particularly in nestmate trials, and avoidance was more common in non-nestmate pairs. Except for the moderate levels of aggression, our results are similar to those on Lasioglossum malachurum Kirby, another obligately eusocial species with strong tolerance for conspecifics and with nests that often include a mixture of related and unrelated workers. Thus, our observations support the hypothesis that reduced intra-colony relatedness, resulting from multiple foundresses and/or drifting among conspecific colonies of eusocial sweat bees, is correlated with high levels of tolerance among nestmates.


Eusociality Drifting Social behavior Nestmate discrimination 



We are indebted to Carlo Polidori and two anonymous reviewers for insightful comments and suggestions that improved an earlier manuscript of this work. This work was supported by the National Science Foundation’s REU program (DBI 1263327).


  1. Arneson L, Wcislo WT (2003) Dominant-subordinate relationships in a facultatively social, nocturnal bee, Megalopta genalis (Hymenoptera: Halictidae). J Kans Entomol Soc 76:183–193Google Scholar
  2. Batra SWT (1966) Nesting behavior of Halictus scabiosae in Switzerland (Hymenoptera, Halictidae). Insect Soc 13:87–92CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Brand N, Chapuisat M (2012) Born to be bee, fed to be worker? The cast system of a primitively eusocial insect. Front Zool 9:35. CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  4. Brand N, Chapuisat M (2014) Impact of helpers on colony productivity in a primitively eusocial bee. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 68:291–298CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Breed MD, Silverman JM, Bell WJ (1978) Agonistic behavior, social interactions, and behavioral specialization in a primitively eusocial bee. Insect Soc 25:351–364CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Dew RM, Gardner MG, Schwarz MP (2014) The problems of a priori categorisation of agonism and cooperation: circle-tube interactions in two allodapine bees. Ethology 120:551–562CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Gibbs J, Brady SG, Kanda K, Danforth BN (2012) Phylogeny of halictine bees supports a shared origin of eusociality for Halictus. and Lasioglossum (Apoidea: Anthophila: Halictidae). Mol Phylogenet Evol 65:926–939CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Hailman JP (1988) Operationalism, optimality and optimism: suitabilities versus adaptations of organisms. In: Ho M-W, Fox SW (eds) Evolutionary processes and metaphors. Wiley, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  9. Kapheim KM, Chan TY, Smith AR, Wcislo WT, Nonacs P (2016) Ontogeny of division of labor in a facultatively eusocial sweat bee Megalopta genalis. Insect Soc 63:185–191CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Lienhard A, Mirwald L, Hötzl T, Kranner I, Kastberger G (2010) Trade-off between foraging activity and infestation by nest parasites in the primitively eusocial bee Halictus scabiosae. Psyche 2010:13. (Article ID 707501) Google Scholar
  11. McConnell-Garner J, Kukuk PF (1997) Behavioral interactions of two solitary, halictine bees with comparisons among solitary, communal and eusocial species. Ethology 103:19–32CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Michener CD (1969) Comparative social behavior of bees. Annu Rev Entomol 14:299–342CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Michener CD (2007) The bees of the world, 2nd edn. Johns Hopkins University Press, BaltimoreGoogle Scholar
  14. Michener CD, Smith BH (1987) Kin recognition in primitively eusocial insects. In: Fletcher DJC, Michener CD (eds) Kin recognition in animals. Wiley, Chichester, pp 209–242Google Scholar
  15. Michener CD, Brothers DJ, Dwight RK (1971) Interactions in colonies of primitively social bees: artificial colonies of Lasioglossum zephyrum. Proc Nat Acad Sci USA 68:1241–1245CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  16. Ordway E (1965) Caste differentiation in Augochlorella (Hymenoptera, Halictidae) Insect Soc 12:291–308CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Pabalan N, Davey KG, Packer L (2000) Escalation of aggressive interactions during staged encounters in Halictus ligatus Say (Hymenoptera: Halictidae), with a comparison of circle tube behaviors with other halictine species. J Insect Behav 13:627–650CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Packer L (2005) The influence of marking upon bee behaviour in circle tube experiments with a methodological comparison among studies. Insect Soc 52:139–146CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Packer L (2006) Use of artificial arenas to predict the social organisation of halictine bees: data for fourteen species from Chile. Insect Soc 53:307–315CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Paxton RJ, Ayasse M, Field J, Soro A (2002) Complex sociogenetic organization and reproductive skew in a primitively eusocial sweat bee, Lasioglossum malachurum, as revealed by microsatellites. Mol Ecol 11:2405–2416CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Peso M, Richards MH (2010) Knowing who’s who: nestmate recognition in the facultatively social carpenter bee, Xylocopa virginica. Anim Behav 79:563–570CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Plateaux-Quénu C (2008) Subsociality in halictine bees. Insect Soc 55:335–346CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Polidori C, Borruso L (2012) Socially peaceful: foragers of the eusocial bee Lasioglossum malachurum are not aggressive against non-nestmates in circle-tube arenas. Acta Ethol 15:15–23CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Richards MH, Packer L (1998) Demography and relatedness in multiple foundress nests of the social sweat bee: Halictus ligatus. Insect Soc 45:97–109CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Richards MH, Packer L (2010) Social behaviours in solitary bees: interactions among individuals in Xeralictus bicuspidariae Snelling (Hymenoptera: Halictidae: Rophitinae). J Hym Res 19:66–76Google Scholar
  26. Richards MH, Packer L, Seger J (1995) Unexpected patterns of parentage and relatedness in a primitively eusocial bee. Nature 373:239–241CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Richard MH, French D, Paxton RJ (2005) It’s good to be queen: classically eusocial colony structure and low worker fitness in an obligately social sweat bee. Mol Ecol 14:4123–4133CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Schwarz MP, Richards MH, Danforth BN (2007) Changing paradigms in insect social evolution: Insights from halictine and allodapine bees. Annu Rev Entomol 52:127–150CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. Soro A, Ayasse M, Zobel MU, Paxton RJ (2009) Complex sociogenetic organization and the origin of unrelated workers in a eusocial sweat bee, Lasioglossum malachurum. Insect Soc 56:55–63CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Ulrich Y, Perrin N, Chapuisat M (2009) Flexible social organization and high incidence of drifting in the sweat bee, Halictus scabiosae. Mol Ecol 18:1791–1800CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. van Wilgenburg E, Dang S, Forti A-L, Koumoundouros TJ, Ly A, Elgar MA (2007) An absence of aggression between non-nestmates in the bull ant Myrmecia nigriceps. Naturwissenschaften 94:787–790CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. Wcislo WT (1997) Social interactions and behavioral context in a largely solitary bee, Lasioglossum (Dialictus) figueresi (Hymenoptera: Halictidae). Insect Soc 44:199–208CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Wcislo WT, Arneson L, Roesch K, Gonzalez V, Smith A, Fernandez H (2004) The evolution of nocturnal behaviour in sweat bees. Megalopta genalis and M. ecuadoria (Hymenoptera: Halictidae): an escape from competitors and enemies? Biol J Linn Soc 83:377–387CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© International Union for the Study of Social Insects (IUSSI) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Undergraduate Biology Program and Department of Ecology and Evolutionary BiologyUniversity of KansasLawrenceUSA
  2. 2.University of CaliforniaSanta CruzUSA
  3. 3.Department of Parasitology, Faculty of Veterinary MedicineUludağ UniversityBursaTurkey
  4. 4.Beekeeping Development-Application and Research CenterUludağ UniversityBursaTurkey
  5. 5.Department of Biology and Office of ProvostUniversity of Central OklahomaEdmondUSA

Personalised recommendations