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Lifeís work

July 17, 2012

Lifeís work

Queen and workers of Melipona triplaridis (Meliponini) on brood comb, in Panama. David Roubik studies stingless bees that emerge from a tube near the base of a tree on Barro Colorado Island.

STRIís senior scientists are often asked to summarize large bodies of work. Dave Roubik recently published a chapter in the Wiley Online Library reviewing the ecology and social organization of bees. Although bees often live alone, there are more than 2,000 social species, most living in the tropics. When daughters become helpers to their queen mother, social colonies arise, enabling her to live longer, reproduce more and protect her brood.

Advanced social behavior has existed for more than 100 million years in stingless bees and for nearly 60 million years in bumble bees, coming and going from many bee lineages in response to profound changes in the Earthís environment.

The long-lived colonies of advanced social bees depend upon division of labor through a caste system. Sterile daughters enforce regulations, stinging, biting and defending the nest with chemicals. Superstars of sociality, honey and stingless bees communicate the location of nectar to their nest mates.

Dave Roubik, STRIís tropical bee expert, tells the world what these amazing creatures are doing.

Roubik, D.W. 2012. Ecology and social organization of bees. Wiley Online Library. DOI: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0023596

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