Within-nest behaviour in a eusocial australian allodapine bee Exoneura (Exoneurella) tridentata Houston (apidae xylocopinae)

Zeta Steen, Michael P. Schwarz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Understanding the processes involved in the evolution of social behaviour has become one of the most challenging areas of modern biology. Since bees and wasps exhibit a variety of social organisations they are particularly useful for addressing social evolutionary questions. Allodapine bees are especially useful for examining social evolution, since species display varying forms of social organisation from solitary to eusocial. This study examines within-nest behaviour of Exoneura (Exoneurella) tridentata, a native Australian allodapine bee. This species has the largest known colony sizes of any allodapine bee and exhibits striking size variation among female nestmates suggesting that sociality may be regarded as highly eusocial. Here we assemble a behavioural catalogue for this species and show that although many behaviours are similar to those recorded for other allodapines, this species differs by the marked presence of overt aggression displayed in the form of biting. Overtly agonistic behaviours have not been recorded for other Australian allodapines and have been recorded only rarely in other allodapine fauna. Exoneura tridentata appears to differ from other highly eusocial species where there is usually little or no aggression but instead "gentle despotism".

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)55-63
Number of pages9
JournalTransactions of the Royal Society of South Australia
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 1998


  • Aggression
  • Allodapine bees
  • Exoneura tridentata
  • Social behaviour


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