, Volume 54, Issue 3, pp 326–336

Behavior of bumble bee pollinators of Aralia hispida Vent. (Araliaceae)


  • James D. Thomson
    • Department of ZoologyUniversity of Toronto
  • Wayne P. Maddison
    • Department of ZoologyUniversity of Toronto
  • R. C. Plowright
    • Department of ZoologyUniversity of Toronto

DOI: 10.1007/BF00380001

Cite this article as:
Thomson, J.D., Maddison, W.P. & Plowright, R.C. Oecologia (1982) 54: 326. doi:10.1007/BF00380001


The andromonoecious plant Aralia hispida has a complicated blooming schedule involving alternations between male and female phases.Nectar and pollen are released gradually through the day. Plants vary considerably in number of flowers per umbel and number of umbels per plant. The major pollinators, bumble bees, show several characteristic behaviors in response to the plant's presentation.
  1. 1.

    Foraging bees preferentially visit umbels that bear large numbers of open, male-phase flowers. They also prefer shoots with large numbers of umbels.

  2. 2.

    If bees have received high nectar rewards at one umbel, they are more likely to visit a neighboring umbel rather than leaving the area. On drained umbels, bees probe more empty flowers before rejecting the umbel if they have been rewarded just previously.

  3. 3.

    Individual bees restrict their foraging to limited areas. Within these areas, they concentrate their visits on certain shoots which they tend to visit in repeatable sequences, or “traplines”. It is inappropriate to consider these bees as “searching”.

  4. 4.

    We discuss some of the implications of these data for two areas of current theoretical interest: plant reproductive strategies and optimal foraging.


Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1982