, Volume 43, Issue 4, pp 449–464

The same, but different: pollen foraging in honeybee and bumblebee colonies


    • Department of EcologyLeuphana University
  • Nico Blüthgen
    • Department of BiologyUniversity of Darmstadt
Original article

DOI: 10.1007/s13592-011-0112-y

Cite this article as:
Leonhardt, S.D. & Blüthgen, N. Apidologie (2012) 43: 449. doi:10.1007/s13592-011-0112-y


Like many other bees worldwide, honeybees and bumblebees are threatened by human-induced disturbances. Yet some species decline and others thrive, likely due to different foraging strategies. As little is known about how resource intake translates into nutrients available to colonies, our study aimed to better understand how differences in foraging strategies may affect colony health by relating differences in pollen spectra collected to differences in nutrient composition. The Apis and Bombus colonies studied were all located at the same site, but nevertheless differed in the spectra of plant species visited for pollen collection and the quality of pollen collected. Bumblebees generally collected pollen with significantly higher pollen protein content and more essential amino acids. Unlike honeybees that tend to exploit large resource patches, bumblebees thus seem to select the “better” pollen and to focus on quality instead of quantity.


generalist pollinatorsamino acidsfloral resources

Copyright information

© INRA, DIB and Springer-Verlag, France 2011