Reproductive biology and cuticular hydrocarbon chemistry of Euglossa hyacinthina.
Callum Kingwell, Callum Kingwell , William Wcislo
Department of Neurobiology and Behavior, Cornell University; Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute; Department of Neurobiology and Behavior, Cornell University; Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute ; Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
Euglossine orchid bees are unusual among bees in the family Apidae, and among social Hymenopterans more generally, because communal nest organization has been observed among individuals of many species. This type of social organization seems to benefit participants in that it offers a valuable resource (the shared nest site) yet it also generates potential conflict between multiple female egg-layers over access to appropriately provisioned cells. Pheromonal communication is thought to be an important mediator of conflict and cooperation in social insects, yet there have been few detailed studies of pheromone chemistry in communally-nesting species. Euglossa hyacinthina is a facultative communally-nesting Euglossine which occurs in the cloud forests of Western Panama and Costa Rica. Here we describe and compare the ovarian development and cuticular hydrocarbon chemistries of female E. hyacinthina from solitary and communal nests at various stages of development, and discuss the role of chemistry in conflict mediation at various levels of social organization.