Costa Rican Stingless Bees: Meliponini

The Meliponini is a tribe of stingless Neotropical bees. They are members of the family Apidae, which also includes familiar bees such as honeybees and bumble bees. And like honey and bumble bees, the Meliponini are social and make honey (in small amounts, some species make enough for humans to farm). This tribe is incredibly diverse (~500 species) and successful, so in spite of being unable to effectively defend themselves against humans, they must be doing something right!

I also learned that there is a Mayan god of bees and honey Ah-muzen-cab!

When I was in Costa Rica recently, I found stingless bees in all of the widely different locations we visited, from lowland rainforest to alpine cloud forest and even in urban San Jose.  These bees appear to be extreme generalists (from my own observations), but much of the time they are nectar robbing (because they are tiny).
Costa Rica
I know this photo isn’t perfect, but I think it’s pretty
I have to figure out what this flower is
On starfruit flowers
I affectionately call these ubiquitous bees “orange butt meliponini”
Rawr I can’t sting or bite you!
Nectar robbing
Nectar robbing
Nectar robbing
Costa Rica
They do seem to like passionflowers
Costa Rica
Costa Rica
Costa Rica
And palm flowers
Costa Rica
Costa Rica
They even like plantains…although whether their visits result in pollination I do not know
Costa Rica
But long tubed flowers they just rob


9 thoughts on “Costa Rican Stingless Bees: Meliponini

  1. Excellent shots of a creature I’m fond of. I like bees in general, but due to having a mild bee sting allergy at present, the stingless ones are much easier to get close to and enjoy! 🙂

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