Nest Architecture and Colony Characteristics of Meliponula bocandei (Hymenoptera, Apidae, Meliponini) in Cameroon

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Cameroon, Meliponini, Meliponula Bocandei, Nest Architecture and Stingless Bees
NJOYA, Moses Tita Mogho; SEINO, Richard Akwanjoh; Wittmann, Dieter; Kenneth, Tah
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 Creative Commons License:
There are several hundred species of stingless bees existing worldwide, which differ significantly in colour, body and colony size. In Africa stingless are distributed throughout the tropical and subtropical parts where they occur sympatrically with the honeybees. Stingless bees have evolved adaptive nest constructions strategies which have resulted in sophisticated nest architecture in many species while others lack certain structural components. Meliponula bocandei is one species of stingless bees with limited or no information on its nest biology. This study therefore is aimed at contributing to knowledge on the nest architecture and colony characteristics of Meliponula bocandei. Results of this study has revealed that this species can either nest in trees trunks or abandoned hollow bamboo hives in forests. 27 nests/colonies that have been recorded in the study area, 40% of which were found in the traditional hollow bamboo hives while 60% in tree trunks. The nest entrance of Meliponula bocandei ranged from 2–3 cm (2.5 ± 0.5 cm) in diameter with no external or internal entrance tube. A typical Meliponula bocandei nest is made up of a single hard brownish batumen linining which is about 2 mm thick and a nest diameter of about 30 cm. Transparent patches of sticky brown involunc- -ra sheets were found all over the brood area. The size of the brood area depends largely on the age and the strength of the colony. The height of a complete nest could be between 14-20 cm high and 15-22 cm wide. The cells of Meliponula bocandei are arranged in clusters with the older cells beneath while the newly constructed cells are found above. The storage pots have varied forms and shapes with a height and diameter of about 2.4 ± 0.5 mm. This study shows some similarities in the nest preferences and architecture of M. bocandei with other meliponula species like M. ferruginea. The above characteris- -tics therefore can be useful in taxonomical, phylogenetic and ecological studies. Also, local stingless bee honey hunters can use the knowledege on the location of the honey pots to improve on their rudimentary harvesting methods without destroying the bees and the nests

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