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Oecologia

, Volume 72, Issue 4, pp 618–623 | Cite as

Role of flower and pollen aromas in host-plant recognition by solitary bees

  • H. E. M. Dobson
Original Papers

Summary

The means by which newly emerged pollen-specific (oligolectic) solitary bees locate their appropriate pollen host plant is not clearly understood. To evaluate the role of flower and pollen odors in this recognition process, preference tests were performed on foraging-inexperienced and, for comparison, field-experienced individuals of the solitary bee Colletes fulgidus longiplumosus. The bees were presented with a choice of four plant species, offered in the form of aromas from flowers, whole pollen, pollenkitt, and internal pollen lipids. Observed feeding-attempt response patterns suggest: 1) that bees can distinguish between plant species on the basis of odors from flowers, whole pollen, and pollenkitt, 2) inexperienced bees show a preference for the pollen on which they were reared as larvae, and 3) chemicals eliciting feeding responses to pollen appear to be contained in the pollenkitt. Feeding responses by experienced bees differ from those of inexperienced bees in ways which indicate that the insects' odor-based search image of the host plant becomes modified by foraging experience.

Key words

Pollenkitt Flower-specificity Colletes Bees Semiochemicals 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • H. E. M. Dobson
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BotanyUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA

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