Mutalisms?

Many insects, such as homopterans, make their living by sucking the juices from plants. Because this plant sap is often poor in amino acids, these insects must process large volumes of sap to extract what they need. This extra sap can be quite sweet and is therefore attractive to insects such as ants and bees. Some homopterans can be stimulated by stingless bees to release a sweet droplet that the bee feeds on. The bee may then protect the homopteran from predators.

Click on the link below to see a stingless bee foraging from a homopteran!

Bee foraging from Homopteran
[Quicktime Movie]

 

Selected References

Almeida MC, Laroca S, 1988. Trigona spinipes (Apidae, Meliponinae): taxonomy, bionomy, and trophic relationships in restricted areas. Acta Biolgica Paranaense 17: 67-108

Almeida-Neto M, Izzo TJ, Raimundo RLG, Rossa-Feres DC, 2003. Reciprocal interference between ants and stingless bees attending the honeydew-producing homopteran Aetalion reticulatum (Homoptera: Aetalionidae). Sociobiology 42: 369-380

Figueiredo RA, 1996. Interactions between stingless meliponine bees, honeydew-producing homopterans, ants and figs in a cerrado area. Naturalia, So Paulo 21:159-164

Laroca S, 1997. Mutualism association between Trigona fuscipennis (Hymenoptera, Apoidea) and Anchistrotus amitteraglobus, an Amazonian membracid that suffers natural mutilation of the pronotum. Acta Biologica Paranaense. Jan. Dec. 26:1-8

 

Necrophagy

Many bee species are attracted to various wastes and decaying corpses or carrion, a phenomenon known as necrophagy. Certain species may collect small pieces of carrion to be used in nest construction, or consume liquid salts from decaying matter, while others utilize flesh instead of pollen as their primary protien source (Baumgartner & Roubik 1989). Bees engaging in necrophagous behavior also contribute to the important function of carrion reduction in tropical ecosystems.

Selected References

Baumgartner DL, Roubik DW (1989) Ecology of necrophilous and filth-gathering stingless bees (Apidae: Meliponinae) of Peru. JOURNAL OF THE KANSAS ENTOMOLOGICAL SOCIETY 62:11-22

Bego LR, Zucchi R, Mateus S (1991) Notes on food strategies (cleptobiosis) in Lestrimelitta limao Smith (Hymenoptera, Apidae, Meliponinae). Naturalia 16:119-127

Camargo JMF, Moure JS (1989) Two new species of Lestrimelitta Friese (Meliponinae, Apidae, Hymenoptera) from the Amazon region (Brazil). BOLETIM DO MUSEU PARAENSE EMILIO GOELDI SERIE ZOOLOGIA 5:195-212

Camargo JMF, Roubik DW (1991) Systematics and bionomics of the apoid obligate necrophages: The Trigona hypogea group (Hymenoptera: Apidae; Meliponinae). Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 44:13-40

Eduardo Serrao J, Cruz-Landim Carminda D (1995) Gut Structures in Adult Workers of Necrophorous Neotropical Stingless Bees (Hymenoptera: Apidae: Meliponinae). Entomologia Generalis 19:261-265

Radtke R, Wittman D, Lbke G, Franke W (1990) Intra- and interspecific chemical communication during pillages of robber bees (Lestrimelitta limao, Apidae, Meliponinae). In: International Union for the Study of Social Insects 11th International Congress. Oxford & IBH Pub. Co., Bangalore, India, pp 589-590

Roubik DW (1982) Obligate necrophagy in a social bee. Science 217:1059-1060

Sakagami SF, Roubik DW, Zucchi R (1993) Ethology of the robber stingless bee, Lestrimelitta limao (Hymenoptera: Apidae). Sociobiology 21:237-277

Serrao JE, Cruz LCD (1998) Electrophoretic analysis of the protein in the midgut of stingless bees (Apidae: Meliponinae) with a comparison of necrophagous and feeding pollen workers. Journal of Advanced Zoology. June 19:33-36

Serrao Jose E, Cruz-Landim Carminda D (1995) Scanning electronic microscopy of the proventriculus in stingless bees (Apidae: Meliponinae) with a comparison of necrophagous and feeding pollen workers. Naturalia (Rio Claro) 20:207-212

Wittman D, Radtke R, Zeil J, Lbke G, Franke W (1990) Robber bees (Lestrimelitta limao) and their host chemical and visual cues in nest defense by Trigona (Tetragonisca) angustula (Apidae: Meliponinae). Journal of Chemical Ecology 16:631-641

 

Nest Raiding

Some bees specialize in raiding other colonies and stealing their collected food!

Selected References

Bego LR, Zucchi R, Mateus S (1991) Notes on food strategies (cleptobiosis) in Lestrimelitta limao Smith (Hymenoptera, Apidae, Meliponinae). Naturalia 16:119-127

Camargo JMF, Moure JS (1989) Two new species of Lestrimelitta Friese (Meliponinae, Apidae, Hymenoptera) from the Amazon region (Brazil). BOLETIM DO MUSEU PARAENSE EMILIO GOELDI SERIE ZOOLOGIA 5:195-212

Radtke R, Wittman D, Lbke G, Franke W (1990) Intra- and interspecific chemical communication during pillages of robber bees (Lestrimelitta limao, Apidae, Meliponinae). In: International Union for the Study of Social Insects 11th International Congress. Oxford & IBH Pub. Co., Bangalore, India, pp 589-590

Sakagami SF, Roubik DW, Zucchi R (1993) Ethology of the robber stingless bee, Lestrimelitta limao (Hymenoptera: Apidae). Sociobiology 21:237-277

Wittman D, Radtke R, Zeil J, Lbke G, Franke W (1990) Robber bees (Lestrimelitta limao) and their host chemical and visual cues in nest defense by Trigona (Tetragonisca) angustula (Apidae: Meliponinae). Journal of Chemical Ecology 16:631-641