Observations on the nests and behavior of Trigona in Australia and New Guinea (Hymenoptera, Apidae). American Museum novitates ; no.2026

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New York, N.Y. : American Museum of Natural History
"The nests of meliponine bees exhibit many features of phyletic and adaptive significance. These characters, which of course result from the behavior of the numerous workers in the colonies, should be considered in conjunction with morphological features and other behavioral ones in assessing the relationships of species of this tribe. Homologies of nest parts are discussed, and a terminology for them is presented. Failure to formalize such matters in the past has resulted in the confused use of the word 'involucrum' for two different structures in different species. The nests of seven species of Trigona from Australia and New Guinea are described. The nests of those species of the subgenus Plebeia that were studied (australis and cincta) differ from other known meliponine nests in having spherical cells which open in various directions, not necessarily upward; from those of other species in which the cells are arranged in clusters, these differ in the presence of an involucrum consisting of a single cerumen sheet. Possibly these features are primitive. It seems reasonably clear that the cluster arrangement of cells found in other species, and considered primitive by previous authors, is in reality an adaptation (associated with loss of the involucrum) making possible the use of small and irregular cavities for nesting places. One species (T. hockingsi) arranges its cells in a manner intermediate between combs and clusters. Reports that two species of Australian Trigona (australis and carbonaria) leave the brood cells open and add provisions to them until as much as three days after hatching of the larvae could not be verified and presumably have no basis in fact. These Australian bees, as do all other Trigona species, mass provision their cells. The establishment of new colonies was not observed, but flights of males and other activities indicate that it must be similar to that of South American stingless bees"--P. 44-45.
46 p. : ill. ; 24 cm.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 45-46).