Members of social insect colonies employ a large variety of chemical signals during their life. Of these, cuticular hydrocarbons are of primary importance for social insects since they allow for the recognition of conspecifics, nestmates and even members of different castes. The objectives of this study were (1) to characterize the variation of the chemical profiles among workers of the stingless bee Melipona marginata, and (2) to investigate the dependence of the chemical profiles on the age and on the behavior of the studied individuals. The results showed that cuticular hydrocarbon profiles of workers were composed of alkanes, alkenes and alkadienes that varied quantitatively and qualitatively according to function of workers in the colony.
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