, Volume 51, Issue 1, pp 79-83

Why do nectar-foraging bees and wasps work upwards on inflorescences?

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Wasps (Dolichovespula and Vespula spp.) worked predominantly upwards when foraging for nectar on inflorescences of the protogynous Scrophularia aquatica, in which the standing crop of nectar sugar per flower showed no clear pattern of vertical distribution up an inflorescence. Bumblebees taking nectar (Bombus hortorum visiting legally, and certain individuals of B. terrestris which positioned themselves head-upwards while taking nectar through holes bitten in the corolla) worked predominantly upwards on the racemose inflorescences of Linaria vulgaris, although the standing crop of nectar sugar per open flower increased up the raceme. Individuals of B. terrestris which robbed Linaria flowers in a head-down position worked predominantly downwards on inflorescences. The upward or downward directionality of intra-inflorescence movements by foraging insects may depend in part on the position these adopt during their flower visits.