When one’s misfortune favors others: the importance of hollows made by a plague on Neltuma trees to stingless bees nesting in Subtropical Dry forests

PV Zelaya, C Molineri, SJ Bravo, FX Palacio, N Chacoff - Apidologie, 2024. A fascinating study unveils how the plague on Neltuma trees, despite its negative impact on tree structure, benefits stingless bees by providing essential hollows for nesting in subtropical dry forests.

figure 3. Best piecewise structural equation model (SEM2) for the relationships between, tree species, DBH, and cerambycid attacks on the nesting site selection by stingless bees
figura 1: Study area within Argentinean Neotropical Dry forests and location of La Aloja Community in the Northwest portion of Santiago del Estero province, Argentina



In subtropical dry forests, stingless bees face unique challenges in finding nesting sites. This study in the Argentinian Dry Chaco region reveals that bees, especially smaller species like P. catamarcensis, select Neltuma trees for nesting. Surprisingly, this choice is linked to hollows created by the larvae of the Criodion angustatum beetle, which, although may damage the tree structure, provide essential spaces for bee colonies. This phenomenon raises fascinating questions about the intricate interactions between pests, trees, and stingless bees. Understanding these dynamics is crucial for the management of this threatened ecosystem.

figura 2: Nest entrances or “piqueras” of three stingless bee species found in the La Aloja Community. A Plebeia catamarcensis, B Plebeia molesta, C Lestrimelitta (L.) chacoana