Univ Sao Paulo, Bee Lab, Biosci Inst, BR-05508900 Sao Paulo - Brazil
 Univ Sao Paulo, Sch Arts Sci & Humanities, BR-03828000 Sao Paulo - Brazil
Total Affiliations: 3
APR 23 2011.
Web of Science Citations:
Insect societies are well-known for their advanced cooperation, but their colonies are also vulnerable to reproductive parasitism. Here, we present a novel example of an intra-specific social parasitism in a highly eusocial bee, the stingless bee Melipona scutellaris. In particular, we provide genetic evidence which shows that, upon loss of the mother queen, many colonies are invaded by unrelated queens that fly in from unrelated hives nearby. The reasons for the occurrence of this surprising form of social parasitism may be linked to the fact that unlike honeybees, Melipona bees produce new queens in great excess of colony needs, and that this exerts much greater selection on queens to seek alternative reproductive options, such as by taking over other nests. Overall, our results are the first to demonstrate that queens in highly eusocial bees can found colonies not only via supersedure or swarming, but also by infiltrating and taking over other unrelated nests. (AU)