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Predatory behavior in a necrophagous bee Trigona hypogea (Hymenoptera; Apidae, Meliponini)


Although most bees feed on nectar and pollen, several exceptions have been reported. The strangest of all is the habit found in some neotropical stingless bees, which have completely replaced pollen-eating by eating animal protein from corpses. For more than 20 years, it was believed that carrion was the only protein source for these bees. We report that these bees feed not only off dead animals, but on the living brood of social wasps and possibly other similar sources. Using well developed prey location and foraging behaviors, necrophagous bees discover recently abandoned wasps’ nests and, within a few hours, prey upon all immatures found there.

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We thank Kurt M. Pickett, Dave Roubik, John Wenzel, Ronaldo Zucchi, and three anonymous reviewers for suggestions on the manuscript. Financial support was from FAPESP (Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo); grant no 01/02491-4 and CNPq.

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Correspondence to Fernando B. Noll.

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Mateus, S., Noll, F.B. Predatory behavior in a necrophagous bee Trigona hypogea (Hymenoptera; Apidae, Meliponini). Naturwissenschaften 91, 94–96 (2004).

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