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Social Behaviour of Stingless Bees: "Bee-Dances" By Workers of the Royal Court and the Rhythmicity of Brood Cell Provisioning and Oviposition Behaviour

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In Melipona favosa the court of workers surrounding the queen during the "extra-oviposition period" is formed principally by those workers who are actively participating in cell building in that period. These bees shuttle intensively between the cells, which they are building, and the distant resting queen. It is concluded that the gradual increase in court acts performed by these workers is of importance for the regulation of the locomotive pattern of the queen. The principal builders are the most active court bees at that time. The specific behaviour of the court workers should be considered as a form of "competitive communication". Similar ritualized court activity has been described for other stingless bee species. In certain species very striking worker-queen co-actions, termed by us as "bee-dances", have evolved. It is concluded that these "bee-dances" have developed for the purpose of conveying information to the queen and that this evolution is, in this group of bees, related to the peculiar temporal structure of oviposition.

Affiliations: 1: Laboratory of Comparative Physiology, University of Utrecht, The Netherlands

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