Colony strength and queen replacement in Melipona marginata (Apidae: Meliponini)

Condições da colônia e substituição de rainhas em Melipona marginata (Apidae: Meliponini)

Physogastric queens of Melipona marginata were removed from their colonies in order to verify the acceptance of a new queen by workers. Colony strength was evaluated according to queen oviposition rate and comb diameters. Replacement was observed seven times. Its occurrence and speed related positively to colony strength, independently of queen's age. In weak colonies, queen replacement was observed only once, following colony population increase that occurred after introduction of combs from another colony. Worker oviposition after queen removal was observed three times: in a strong colony with virgin queens and males, and in two of the weak colonies. In the first two or three days of new queen oviposition, during which most of the eggs were eaten by the queen, worker oviposition preceded almost all provisioning and oviposition processes (POPs). After this period, worker oviposition decreased until it reached around 25% of the POPs. Daily oviposition rate of young queens decreased or was even interrupted by hatching of their first brood.

stingless bees; queen replacemen; worker oviposition; colony strength; Melipona


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