Brood production increases when artificial heating is provided to colonies of stingless bees
Ayrton Vollet-Neto, Cristiano Menezes and Vera Lucia Imperatriz-Fonseca
Although stingless bees are capable of maintaining their nest temperature within certain limits, brood production of several species declines or even completely stops during periods of low ambient temperature. In the present study, we investigated whether the brood production of the meliponine species Nannotrigona testaceicornis can be artificiallyincreased through heating the colonies during the cold season. For this, we monitored the rate of brood cell production of seven hives in intervals of 24 hours under two different experimental conditions: 1. without; and 2. with heating. Each treatment (first with and subsequently without heating) lasted for nine consecutive days. The ambient temperature (TA) during both experimental periods was very similar (TAWITH = 16.1ºC; TAWITHOUT = 16.3ºC). On average, the colonies built 3.6 brood cells per day without and 15.8 brood cells per day with artificial heating (Wilcoxon Rank Sum test: T = 10, Z = 4, P < 0.001). In both treatments, the rate of brood cell production increased with increasing environmental temperature (Spearman Rank Correlation: RWITH = 0.71, P = 0.02; RWITHOUT = 0.66, P = 0.05). We concluded that artificial heating during cold periods increased the brood cell production in N. testaceicornis. Our results indicate that the use of heaters for stingless bee hives during periods of low ambient temperature may be helpful for stingless beekeeping.
stingless bees, artificial heating, thermoregulation, brood production