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Ecology and Social Organisation of Bees

  1. David W Roubik

Published Online: 15 JUN 2012

DOI: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0023596

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Roubik, D. W. 2012. Ecology and Social Organisation of Bees. eLS.

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  1. Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Balboa, Republic of Panama

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 JUN 2012
Table 1. Social bees, their estimated number of species, and taxonomy
NameCommon nameNo. of social speciesaGenerab
  1. a

    Estimates from cited literature.

  2. b

    Selected genera for allodapines and meliponines.

Halictini (Halictidae)Sweat bees830Halictus, Lasioglossum, Augochlora, Augochlorella, Augochloropsis, Megalopta
Bombini (Apidae)Bumble bees250Bombus, Bombus (Psythirus)
Euglossini (Apidae)Orchid bees140Euglossa, Eulaema
Xylocopini (Apidae)Carpenter bees10Ceratina, Xylocopa
Allodapini (Apidae)allodapines250Exoneura, Hasinamelissa, Braunsapis, Halterapis, Exoneurella, Macrogalea
Apini (Apidae)Honey bees12Apis
Meliponini (Apidae)Meliponines or Stingless bees500Trigona, Melipona, Scaptotrigona, Oxytrigona, Plebeia, Trigonisca, Cephalotrigona, Lestrimelitta, Scaura, Paratrigona, Tetragona, Meliponula, Cleptotrigona, Dactylurina, Liotrigona, Hypotrigona, Lepidotrigona, Tetragonula, Heterotrigona, Lisotrigona, Pariotrigona, Austroplebeia
Table 2. Correlates and putative causal agents of bee sociality
 Value or correlatePresent bee groupSpecial adaptation
Haplo-diploidyHigh female relatednessAll 
Female-biased sex ratioWorker controlB, E, H 
High predation/parasite pressureGuarding behaviour by queen or helperAL, H, M, A, E, C 
Wax productionNectar, pollen hoarding and honey productionM, A, ∼B 
Abundant nesting material (resin)Material for defense and food storageM, E, A 
Mating limitationDefault helpersAL, H, E 
Worker ‘policing’Inclusive fitness favors queen controlB, A 
Single matingKin selection favors queen controlM, B, AL, H, C 
Multiple matingAdaptability and social conflictAAll Apis, rare in Bombus, halictines, meliponines
Food scarcityShort-term colonyB, H, E 
Female longevityGeneration overlapA, H, M, A 
Nest re-useGeneration overlapC, AL, ∼B, E, M, A 
Brood care and feedingCooperation and mutualism, or policingAL, C, E 
Mutual female toleranceIncipient coloniesH, A, ∼M, ∼E 
High relatedness or population viscosity and limited dispersalKin selectionAL, H, M, A 
Long flowering seasonMultivoltinism and generation overlapM, A, E, AL 
High resource abundanceCompetition and hoarding abilityB, A, MBombus, high latitude summer effect
Loss of stingMultiple queensMmeliponines
Female polymorphismDominance hierarchyH, B, M, Ahalictines, allodapines