Food Niche Overlap Among Neotropical Carpenter Bees (Hymenoptera: Apidae: Xylocopini) in an Agricultural System


  • Danielle Mendes Carvalho Universidade Estadual de Feira de Santana
  • Candida Maria Lima Aguiar Universidade Estadual de Feira de Santana
  • Gilberto Marcos Mendonça Santos Universidade Estadual de Feira de Santana



carpenter bees, plant network, trophic niches, temporal activity


In the present study, we used niche overlap analysis and a network approach to investigate the use of floral resources by carpenter bees (Xylocopa spp.). We assessed the frequency of visit to different plant species and the activity time of carpenter bees in an agricultural system. Six species of carpenter bees were collected visiting flowers. Among the 48 interactions that were theoretically possible in the interaction network, only 19 were recorded (Connectance = 39.58%). The temporal overlap between pairs of species measured by the Shannon index (0 to 0.648) was lower than dietary overlap (0 to 0.967). The network analysis also showed that bees separated their niches more strongly in the temporal dimension (E = 0.72, P < 0.001) than in the dietary dimension (E = 0.55, P < 0.001). The levels of dietary and temporal overlap were strongly correlated with each other, as well as the time of highest frequency of visit coincided with the time of availability of resources by the most important plants (Moringa oleifera, Passiflora edulis, and Solanum palinacanthum). The correlation between dietary and temporal overlap is biologically explained by the presence of plants that structure the system by exerting a strong influence not only on the plant choice by foraging bees, but also on the time of resource collection.

Author Biography

Gilberto Marcos Mendonça Santos, Universidade Estadual de Feira de Santana

Dr. Gilberto Marcos de Mendonça Santos was educated at the Universidade Federal da Bahia, Brazil, and PhD degrees at the Universidade de São Paulo (Ribeirão Preto, Brazil), the latter under the direction of Professor Nivar Gobbi, one of the leading world experts on social biology of wasps.  Presently, Dr. Santos is professor of Ecology and Advanced Studies of ecology at Feira de Santana State University. During his teaching career he taught General Entomology, Biogeography  and Social Insects´s Biology. Dr. Gilberto M M Santos is Associated Editor of journal Sociobiology and Adjunt Editor of Journal Magistra. How do ecosystems work, and why is biodiversity important for ecosystem functioning? These are the core questions behind of Dr. Santos´s research. Currently the studies of Dr. Gilberto M M Santos show special interest in complex systems and their use for understanding biological networks (bee-plants foodweba, bee-parasit network and biological invasions). Since 2010 is the Coordinator of the postgraduate course in zoology from Feira de Santana State University


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How to Cite

Carvalho, D. M., Aguiar, C. M. L., & Santos, G. M. M. (2013). Food Niche Overlap Among Neotropical Carpenter Bees (Hymenoptera: Apidae: Xylocopini) in an Agricultural System. Sociobiology, 60(3), 283–288.



Research Article - Bees

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