, Volume 52, Issue 1, pp 123-136

Competitive effects of the exotic Bombus terrestris on native bumble bees revealed by a field removal experiment

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Abstract

A commercialized bumble bee pollinator (Bombus terrestris) introduced from Europe has colonized in Japan and potentially competes with native bumble bees for food and nest sites. To examine the competitive impacts, a field removal experiment was conducted in an area in northern Japan where B. terrestris has become feral. In 2005 and 2006, totals of 1,511 and 2,978 B. terrestris bees, respectively, were killed in six removal sites. In those 2 years and the pre-removal year (2004), the bee abundance and worker body size were measured in the six removal sites and seven control sites, and effects of the removal on the measurements were examined using statistical models. In 2005 only, the removal decreased the number of B. terrestris queens and increased that of two native species, B. ardens and B. hypocrita, the tongue length of which overlaps that of B. terrestris. The removal in 2005 affected the worker body size of neither B. terrestris nor any native species. These results show the competitive impacts of exotic B. terrestris on the queen abundance of the native species that are likely to share floral resources with B. terrestris.