Pollen diversity and pollen ingestion in an Amazonian stingless bee, Melipona seminigra (Hymenoptera, Apidae)
Carlos Ueira-Vieira, Carlos Gustavo Nunes-Silva, Maria Lúcia Absy, Maria de Fátima Ferreira da Costa Pinto, Warwick Estevam Kerr, Ana Maria Bonetti and Gislene Almeida Carvalho-Zilse
The knowledge of digestive processes correlated with the species of plant used by stingless bees is important for development of Meliponiculture, or stingless bee keeping, which is a lucrative activity in the Brazilian Amazon. The number and state of digestion of pollen grains in the midgut and rectum, as well as the pollinic diversity and activity of some digestive enzymes, were analyzed in different life stages of the stingless bee Melipona seminigra to compare the difference of digestion process in larvae, adult workers (nurse and forager) and virgin queens of Amazon stingless bees. Pollen consumption was found to be similar for nurse workers and virgin queens, while larvae consume significantly more pollen than other stages. A survey of pollinic diversity identified eight plant families, with the majority of digested pollen collected from the Melastomataceae (97.85%), and most undigested pollen from the Fabaceae (51%). The activity of hydrolytic enzymes was analyzed in larval food, pollen stored in the colony, and the midguts of bees at different life stages, whose comparisons revealed differences between each stage and caste.
physiology of digestion, pollinic diversity, Apidae, stingless bee