We evaluated the ratio between the number of pollen foragers and the total number of bees entering colonies of Melipona bicolor, a facultative polygynous species of stingless bees. The variables considered in our analysis were: seasonality, colony size and the number of physogastric queens in each colony. The pollen forager ratios varied significantly between seasons; the ratio was higher in winter than in summer. However, colony size and number of queens per colony had no significant effect.
In social insects, cuticular hydrocarbons are involved in species, kin, caste and nestmate recognition. Gas chromatography and mass spectrometry were used to compare the cuticular hydrocarbon composition of workers, males and queens of Melipona bicolor. The cuticular hydrocarbon composition of this species was found to consist mainly of C23, C25:1, C25, C27:1, C27, C29:1 and C29, which are already present in imagoes that have not yet abandoned the brood cell. This composition varied quantitatively and qualitatively between and within the castes and sexes.