Costa Rica Stingless Bees

I’d heard about these tiny stingless bees & the waxy tubes that form the entrance to their nests, & was excited to finally get to see them at La Selva Research Station in Costa Rica.

This tiny bee is perched at the edge of the delicate, almost lacy, wax tube he and his hive mates have created.

The second pic another individual working on the wax at the entrance of their tube.

The bees are about 5 mm long and the entrance tube is about 6 mm in diameter.

The final pic is actually the first pic I took.  You’ll see at least 5 of the bees came to the entrance — presumably to make sure I wasn’t a marauding critter -- & then all went back to business.

It was fun to watch them for a while as they added wax to the entrance tube.  

What beautiful blue-green eyes they have.  And how delicate the wax tube appears.

Believe these are Tetragonisca angustula, but whoever they are, they’re probably part of the Meliponina tribe of stingless bees.

Turns out bees in that tribe do actually have stingers, but it appears they are quite small & not used for defense.  So they are indeed “stingless,” but not “stingerless."  

Instead, they bite & some species even deliver formic acid through their mandibles.  

Some types of stingless bees produce honey & are kept by humans for that purpose.  Lots of interesting info available online regarding human interactions with them & the qualities we’ve ascribed to their honey over many hundreds, probably even thousands, of years.

La Selva Research Station, Costa Rica. Photos taken of wild critters where I find them. No posing, pestering, or baiting, & aiming to leave no trace. Corrections welcome to my critter IDs. Olympus EM1 Mark II, M.Zuiko ED 60mm f2.8 Macro, Fenix Headlamp & Focusing Lights, Godox TT350o Flash. DIY Diffuser. Handheld.