Obligate Necrophagy in a Social Bee

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Science  10 Sep 1982:
Vol. 217, Issue 4564, pp. 1059-1060
DOI: 10.1126/science.217.4564.1059


The social bee Trigona hypogea uses carrion instead of pollen as a protein source. Nests lack stored pollen, pollen is absent in larval provisions, and corbiculae for pollen transport on worker hind legs are reduced. Glandular secretions of 20 percent protein content appear to replace stored pollen. Toothed mandibles, pheromonal recruitment to resources, and aggressive foraging behavior facilitated evolution of necrophagy in this tropical forest bee lineage.