First record of the stingless bee Lestrimelitta rufa (Friese) (Hymenoptera: Apidae: Meliponini) in NE Brazil and its cleptobiotic behavior

Valdenio Mendes Mascena, David Silva Nogueira, Celso Moreira Silva, Breno Magalhães Freitas


The aim of this study was to expand occurrence records of Lestrimelitta rufa (Friese, 1903) to the Brazilian Northeast and to document the cleptobiotic behavior of this robber species in colonies of Melipona quinquefasciata Lepeletier, 1836. Two attacks were carried out in a meliponary in the county of Barbalha (Ceará, Brazil), where pot and larval food were sacked. Even with direct confrontation between invading and inquiline bees, there was a total loss of one of the attacked nests because robber workers remained insistently in search of resources of these nests during the attacks.


Robber bee; Melipona quinquefasciata; ethology; inquiline bee

Full Text:



Andrade-Lima, D. (1982). Present day forest refuges in Northeastern Brazil. In G.T. Prance (Ed.), Biological Diversification in the Tropics (pp. 245-254). New York: University Press, Columbia.

Bego, R.L., Zucchi, R., Mateus, S. (1991). Notas sobre a estratégia alimentar (cleptobiose) de Lestrimelitta limao Smith (Hymenoptera, Apidae, Meliponinae). Naturalia, 16: 119-127.

Blum, M.S., Crewe, R.M., Kerr, W.E., Keith, L.E., Garrison, A.W. & Walker, M.M. (1970). Citral in stingless bees: isolation and functions in trail-laying and robbing. Journal of Insect Physiology, 16: 1637-1648.

Camargo, J.M.F. & Pedro, S.R.M. (2013). Meliponini Lepeletier, 1836. In J.S. Moure, D. Urban & G.A.R. Melo (Orgs). Catalogue of Bees (Hymenoptera, Apoidea) in the Neotropical Region - online version. (accessed date: 11 September, 2016).

CPMR. (2011). Companhia de Pesquisa de Recursos Minerais. Atlas geológicos do Brasil. Levantamento da geodiversidade projeto atlas pluviométrico do Brasil isoietas anuais médias período 1977 a 2006. Ministério de Minas e energia. Brasília, (accessed date: 21 November, 2016).

Grüter, C., Menezes, C., Imperatriz-Fonseca, V.L. & Ratnieks, F.L.W. (2012). A morphologically specialized soldier caste improves colony defense in a neotropical eusocial bee. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 109: 1182-1186.

Marchi, P. & Melo, G.A.R. (2006). Revisão taxonômica das espécies brasileiras do gênero Lestrimelitta Friese (Hymenoptera, Apidae, Meliponina). Revista Brasileira de Entomologia, 50: 6-30.

Michener, C.D. (1974). The Social Behavior of the Bees. Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 404 p.

Michener, C.D. (2007).The Bees of the World. The Johns Hopkins University Press. 2nd Ed, 953 p.

Moro, M.F., Macedo, M.B., Moura-Fé, M.M., Castro, A.S. & Costa, F.R.C. (2015). Vegetação, unidades fitoecológicas e diversidade paisagística do estado do Ceará. Rodriguésia, 66: 717-743.

Moure, S.J. (1951). Notas sôbre Meliponinae (Hymenopt. - Apoidea). Dusenia, 2: 25-70.

Pompeu, M.S. & Silveira, F.A. (2005). Reaction of Melipona rufiventris Lepeletier to citral and against an attack by the cleptobiotic bee Lestrimelitta limao (Smith) (Hymenoptera: Apidae: Meliponina). Brazilian Journal of Biology, 65: 189-191.

Rech, A.R., Schwade, M.A. & Schwade, M.R.M. (2013). Abelhas-sem-ferrão amazônicas defendem meliponários contra saques de outras abelhas. Acta Amazonica, 43: 389-394.

Roubik, D.W. (1989). Ecology and natural history of tropical bees. New York, Cambridge University Press. 514 p.

Sakagami, S.F. & Laroca, S. (1963). Additional observations on the habits of the cleptobiotic stingless bees, the Genus Lestrimelitta Friese (Hymenoptera, Apoidea). Journal of the Faculty of Science, Hokkaido University, Series VI, Zoology, 15: 319-339.

Sakagami, S.F., Roubik, D.W. & Zucchi, R. (1993), Ethology of the robber stingless bee, Lestrimelitta limao (Hymenoptera, Apidae). Sociobiology, 21: 237-277.

Santana, W.C., Freitas, G.S., Akatsu, I.P. & Espencer, A.S.E. (2004). Abelha Iratim (Lestrimelitta limao Smith: Apidae, Meliponinae), realmente é danosa às populações de abelhas? Necessita ser eliminada? Mensagem Doce, 78.

Schwarz, H.F. (1948). Stingless bees (Meliponidae) of the Western Hemisphere. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History, 90: 1-546.

Silveira, F.A., Melo, G.A.R. & Almeida, E.A.B. (2002). Abelhas Brasileiras: Sistemática e Identificação. 1ª Edição. Belo Horizonte. 253 pp.

Van Zweden, J.S., Gruter, C., Jones, S.M. & Ratnieks, F.L.W. (2011). Hovering guards of the stingless bee Tetragonisca angustula increase colony defensive perimeter as shown by intra- and inter-specific comparisons. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 65: 1277-1282.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

JCR Impact Factor 2016: 0.699