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Abstract

Antenna grooming in more than 100 species of bees (Apoidea), representing 34 genera of the 7 major bee families is recorded and quantitatively analysed.

Most species of bees fall into one of two groups with respect to repetitive antenna cleaning: “Uniscrapers” predominantly clean their antennae with one stroke, “biscrapers” mostly with two subsequent strokes. Uniscrapers are more consequent in their behaviour than biscrapers. Most biscrapers occasionally clean their antenna with one or three strokes. Individual variation in the ratio of stroke repetition is considerably larger in bi- than in uniscrapers. In several species males and females differ with respect to their antenna cleaning behaviour, females tend to be more uniscraping. Most species of the families Colletidae, Halictidae, and Andrenidae, as well as the species of the genera Ceratina and Nomada (Anthophoridae) are biscrapers. Almost all species of Melittidae, Megachilidae, Apidae, and Anthophoridae (except Ceratina and Nomada) are uniscrapers.

Bees with an antenna cleaner with ancestral (plesiomorphic) morphology are mostly, but not always, biscrapers, those with a derived antenna cleaner are always uniscrapers.

Bees with a derived antenna cleaner perform on average less cleaning actions and strokes than those with an ancestral antenna cleaner. Uniscrapers with an ancestral strigilis do on average more cleaning actions per minute than biscrapers, thus they compensate partly for the fewer number of strokes. But nevertheless the uniscrapers do fewer strokes than the biscrapers (both with an ancestral strigilis). Females clean their antennae on average more often than males.

It is interpreted that the behaviour of uniscraping and a derived morphology of the antenna cleaner result in greater efficiency than the status which is ancestral for Apoidea (biscraping and a plesiomorphic antenna cleaner).