Tuesday, 16 November 2004

Do the miniature queens of Plebeia remota (Hymenoptera: Apidae: Meliponini) lay smaller eggs than normal-sized queens?

Marcia de Fatima Ribeiro, marib@ib.usp.br, Universidade de Sao Palo, Depto. de Ecologia, R. do Matao, trav. 14, n. 321, Sao Palo, Sao Palo, Brazil

Miniature queens have been mentioned previously. However, only recently they started to be studied. In Plebeia remota, miniature and normal-sized queens occur in natural populations and are viable, i.e., both morphotypes do a nuptial flight, mate and head normal colonies. Moreover, experiments have demonstrated that both may lay about the same number of eggs. This work investigated whether their eggs are of a similar size. A sample of 10 queens (6 normal and 4 miniature) was measured (head width, interorbital distance and intertegular distance) as were the eggs they laid (length and width; n=275 eggs). We found significant differences in the morphometric values for the eggs (Kruskal-Wallis test, p< 0.0001). Spearman correlation coefficients between the size of the queens and the size of their respective eggs were also significant (p < 0.05), indicating there is a strong relation between them. Thus, small queens lay small eggs while large queens lay large eggs. However, colony condition and consequently the quantity and quality of food a queen receives (by trofallaxis, eating larval food or trophic eggs) should also be considered, since these aspects could influence the eggs’ size.

Species 1: Hymenoptera Apidae Plebeia remota (stingless bee)
Keywords: miniature queens

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