The Implications of Forager Behaviour for Social Organisation in a Socially Polymorphic Carpenter Bee (Xylocopa virginica)
MetadataShow full item record
In social Hymenoptera, the division of labour is a major step in the evolution of sociality. Bees, which express many different kinds of sociality, can be classified according to how individuals share or do not share foraging and reproductive activities (Michener, 1974). The large carpenter bee, Xylocopa virginica, lives in populations with both solitary and social nests. In social nests, reproduction is controlled by the dominant female, who does all of her own foraging and egg-laying, while the subordinates guard the nest only. This study examined foraging behaviour as a way to classify the social hierarchy. Individual females were marked, measured and intensely observed for the foraging season. It was found that a large number of subordinates forage and likely obtain more reproductive fitness than previously thought. The dominance hierarchy is very likely a social queue, in which bees take turns foraging and egg-laying.