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Cooperation and antagonism over time: a conflict faced by males of Tetragonisca angustula in nests

dos Santos, C. F.
Insectes sociaux 2018 v.65 no.3 pp. 465-471
Tetragonisca angustula, aggression, antagonism, energy, legs, males, models, nectar, nests, probability, social insects, stingless bees, trophallaxis
Before leaving to look for mates, the male stingless bees seem to face a dilemma to obtain food (energy) while avoiding aggression from the workers in their natal nests. It has been theorised that if these males waste time managing both situations inside the nests, it could reduce their chances of inseminating virgin queens outside nests. Here, I study Tetragonisca angustula (Hymenoptera: Apidae: Meliponini) males as a model of stingless bees to analyse whether the number of positive and negative interactions (cooperation = trophallaxis; antagonism = bites, respectively) with their worker nestmates are affected by the number of males inside nests or then by the time spent by them there. Next, I evaluate the binomial probability of these males leaving their natal nests as a function of trophallaxis and bites received of the workers. Finally, I assess which of the males’ body parts are commonly bitten by workers. The results demonstrate that males join with other males every day in hot places inside the nests to dehydrate nectar. Paradoxically, both trophallaxis and bites (these are often on legs) received from workers rise significantly throughout the time spent in the nests. Then, the probability of males leaving their natal nests rises 85% for every day spent inside the colonies. These data reinforce the suggestion of a dilemma faced by T. angustula males with relation to when to leave, i.e. how long to spend obtaining energy (and safety) within the nests while enduring aggression from workers, before permanently abandoning their natal nests to look for mates.