Opportunistic Occupation of Nests of Microcerotermes spp. Silvestri (Termitidae, Termitinae) by Partamona seridoensis Camargo & Pedro (Apidae, Meliponini) in the Brazilian Tropical Dry Forest


  • Thiago Felipe Fonseca Nunes de Oliveira Universidade Federal Rural do Semi-Árido
  • Luiz Luz da Silva Universidade Federal Rural do Semi-Árido
  • Michael Hrncir Universidade Federal Rural do Semi-Árido




stingless bees, termitophily, opportunistic association, defense mechanisms, thermoregulation, Caatinga


Social bees make use of natural or animal-built structures to protect their colonies from environmental stressors. Here, particularly attractive shelters are active termite nests because they provide a stable climatic environment for inquilines. Several social bee species form obligatory associations with termites, among these the stingless bee Partamona seridoensis (Apidae, Meliponini), whose distribution is limited to the Tropical Dry Forest in the Brazilian Northeast. So far, colonies of this meliponine species have been found mainly in arboreal nests of the termite Constrictotermes cyphergaster, which suggests a tight relationship between these two social insect species. The present study was conducted in an area of the Tropical Dry Forest in the Brazilian State of Rio Grande do Norte, where P. seridoensis naturally occurs albeit the absence of C. cyphergaster. We registered 14 colonies of P. seridoensis, all occupying active arboreal nests of termites of the genus Microcerotermes. The only other termites with arboreal nests present in the study area, Nasutitermes corniger, never housed P. seridoensis. This selective preference of the bees for Microcerotermes nests might be due to differences between termites concerning defense mechanisms or concerning thermal stability within the nests.


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