Journal of Insect Behavior

, Volume 9, Issue 2, pp 163–182

Do bumblebees (Hymenoptera: Apidae) really forage close to their nests?

  • W. E. Dramstad
Article

Abstract

This paper questions whether bumblebees really forage as close to their nests as has commonly been assumed in the bumblebee literature. Three experiments are described that involved marking and reobservation bumblebees. None of these experiments showed any tendency for bumblebees to concentrate their foraging close to (e.g., within 50 m from) the nest. Rather, the results suggested that bumblebees may prefer to forage at some distance from their nest. Further, a closer review of the bumblebee literature showed that similar findings were quite common. Some possible explanations to the observed behavior patterns are given as outlines for further research.

Key Words

bumblebees (Bombusflight distances foraging behavior 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Alford, D. V. (1975).Bumblebees, Davis-Poynter, London.Google Scholar
  2. Awram, W. J. (1970).Flight Route Behaviour of Bumblebees, Ph.D. thesis, University of London, London.Google Scholar
  3. Banaszak, J. (1980). Studies on methods of censusing the numbers of bees (Hymenoptera: Apoidea).Pol. Ecol. Stud. 6: 355–366.Google Scholar
  4. Bergwall, H. E. (1970). Ekologiska iaktagelser över några humlearter (Bombus Latr.) vid Staloluokta inom Padjelanta nationalpark, Lule Lappmark.Entomol. Tidskr..91: 3–23.Google Scholar
  5. Beutler, R. (1951). Time and distance in the life of the foraging bee.Bee World 32: 25–27.Google Scholar
  6. Bond, D. A., and Pope, M. (1974). Factors affecting the proportions of cross-bred and selfed seed obtained from field bean (Vicia faba L.) crops.J. Agr. Sci. 83: 343–351.Google Scholar
  7. Bowers, M. A. (1985). Bumblebee colonization, extinction and reproduction in subalpine meadows in northeastern Utah.Ecology 66: 914–927.Google Scholar
  8. Braan, A. D. (1954). The foraging of bumble bees.Bee World 35: 61–67, 81–91.Google Scholar
  9. Brian, M. V. (1965).Social Insect Populations, Academic Press, London.Google Scholar
  10. Broyles, S. B., and Wyatt, R. (1991). Effective pollen dispersal in a natural population ofAsclepias exaltata: The influence of pollinator behavior, genetic similarity, and mating success.Am. Nat. 138: 1239–1249.Google Scholar
  11. Butler, C. G. (1951). Annual Report, Bee Department, Rothampstead Experimental Station.Google Scholar
  12. Cartar, R. V., and Dill, L. M. (1990). Colony energy requirements affect the foraging currency of bumble bees.Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol. 27: 377–383.Google Scholar
  13. Corbet, S. A., Kerslake, C. J. C., Brown, D., and Morland, N. E. (1984). Can bees select nectarrich flowers in a patch?J. Apic. Res. 23: 234–242.Google Scholar
  14. Corbet, S. A., Williams, I. H., and Osborne, J. L. (1991). Bees and the pollination of crops and wild flowers in the European community.Bee World 72: 47–59.Google Scholar
  15. Coville, F. V. (1890). Notes on bumblebees.Proc. Entomol. Soc. Wash. 1: 197–203.Google Scholar
  16. Eckert, J. E. (1955). The flight of the honeybee.Am. Bee J. 95: 395–401.Google Scholar
  17. Eickwort, G. C., and Ginsberg, H. S. (1980). Foraging and mating behavior in Apoidea.Annu. Rev. Entomol. 25: 421–446.Google Scholar
  18. Free, J. B. (1968). The foraging behavior of honeybees (Apis mellifera) and bumblebees (Bombus spp.) on blackcurrant (Ribes nigrum), raspberry (Rubus idaeus) and strawberry (Fragaria× ananassa) flowers.J. Appl. Ecol. 5: 157–168.Google Scholar
  19. Free, J. B. (1970a). The flower constancy of bumblebees.J. Anim. Ecol. 39: 395–402.Google Scholar
  20. Free, J. B. (1970b).Insect Pollination of Crops, Academic Press, New York.Google Scholar
  21. Free, J. B. (1982)Bees and Mankind, George Allen & Unwin, London.Google Scholar
  22. Free, J. B., and Butler, C. G. (1959).Bumblebees, Collins, London.Google Scholar
  23. Gentry, A. H. (1978). Anti-pollinators for mass-flowering plants?Biotropica 10: 68–69.Google Scholar
  24. Goldblatt, J. W., and Fell, R. D. (1987). Adult longevity of workers of the bumble beesBombus fervidus (F.) andBombus pennsylvanicus (De Geer) (Hymenoptera: Apidae).Can. J. Zool. 65: 2349–2353.Google Scholar
  25. Handel, S. N. (1983). Pollination ecology, plant population structure, and gene flow. In Real, L. (ed.),Pollination Biology, Academic Press, pp. 163–211.Google Scholar
  26. Harder, L. D. (1986). Influences on the density and dispersion of bumble bee nests (Hymenoptera: Apidae).Holarct. Ecol. 9: 99–103.Google Scholar
  27. Heggenes, J., Krog, O. M. W., Lindås, O. R., Dokk, J. G., and Bremnes, T. (1993). Homostatic behavioural responses in a changing environment: Brown trout (Salmo trutta) become nocturnal during winter.J. Anim. Ecol. 62: 295–308.Google Scholar
  28. Heinrich, B. (1975). Energetics of pollination.Annu. Rev. Ecol. Syst. 6: 139–170.Google Scholar
  29. Heinrich, B. (1976a). The foraging specializations of individual bumblebees.Ecol. Monogr. 46: 105–128.Google Scholar
  30. Heinrich, B. (1976b). Resource partitioning among some eusocial insects: Bumblebees.Ecology 57: 874–889.Google Scholar
  31. Heinrich, B. (1979a). “Majoring” and “minoring” by foraging bumblebees,Bombus vagans: An experimental analysis.Ecology 60: 245–255.Google Scholar
  32. Heinrich, B. (1979b).Bumblebee Economics, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA.Google Scholar
  33. Hobbs, G. A., Nummi, W. O., and Visrostek, J. F. (1961). Food-gathering behaviour of honey, bumble and leaf-cutter bees (Hymenoptera: Apoidea) in Alberta.Can. Entomol. 93: 409–419.Google Scholar
  34. Hodges, C. M. (1985). Bumble bee foraging: Energetic consequences of using a threshold departure rule.Ecology 66: 188–197.Google Scholar
  35. Holm, S. N. (1966). The utilization and management of bumble bees for red clover and alfalfa seed production.Annu. Rev. Entomol. 11: 155–182.Google Scholar
  36. Holmes, F. O. (1964). The distribution of honey bees and bumblebees on nectar-secreting plants.Am. Bee J. 104: 12–13.Google Scholar
  37. Inouye, D. (1978). Response partitioning in bumblebees: Experimental studies in foraging behavior.Ecology 59: 672–678.Google Scholar
  38. Jennersten, O., Berg, L., and Lehman, C. (1988). Phenological differences in pollinator visitation, pollen deposition and seed set in the sticky catchfly,Viscaria vulgaris.J. Ecol. 76: 1111–1132.Google Scholar
  39. Kevan, P. G. (1975). Pollination and environmental conservation.Environ. Conserv. 2: 293–298.Google Scholar
  40. Kevan, P. G., and Baker, H. G. (1983). Insects as flower visitors and pollinators.Annu. Rev. Entomol. 28: 407–453.Google Scholar
  41. Kwak, M. M. (1978). Pollination, hybridization and ethological isolation ofRhinanthus minor andR. serotinus by bumblebees.Taxon 27: 145–158.Google Scholar
  42. Kwak, M. M. (1979). Effects of bumble bee visits on the seed set of Pedicularis, Rhinanthus and Melampyrum (Schrophulariaceae) in the Netherlands.Acta Bot. Neerl. 28: 177–195.Google Scholar
  43. Kwak, M. M. (1987). Marking a bumblebee without anaesthesia.Bee World 68: 180–181.Google Scholar
  44. Kwak, M. M., Kremer, P., Boerrichter, E., and van den Brand, C. (1991). Pollination of the rare speciesPhyteuma nigrum (Campanulaceae): Flight distances of bumblebees.Proc. Exp. Appl. Entomol. 2: 131–136.Google Scholar
  45. Levin, D. A. (1981). Dispersal versus gene flow in plants.Ann. Mo. Bot. Gard. 68: 233–253.Google Scholar
  46. Levin, D. A., and Kerster, H. W. (1974). Gene flow in seed plants.Evol. Biol. 7: 139–220.Google Scholar
  47. Liu, H. J., Macfarlane, R. P., and Pengelly, D. H. (1975). Relationships between flowering plants and four species ofBombus (Hymenoptera: Apidae) in southern Ontario.Can. Entomol. 107: 577–588.Google Scholar
  48. Løken, A. (1985). Norske insekttabeller. 9. Humler.Google Scholar
  49. McDonald, J. L., and Levin, M. D. (1965). An improved method for marking bees.J. Apic. Res. 4: 95–97.Google Scholar
  50. Morgan, P., and Percival, M. (1967). The rearing and management of bumble bees for students of biology.Bee World 48: 48–58, 100–109.Google Scholar
  51. Morse, D. H. (1986). Predatory risk to insects foraging at flowers.Oikos 46: 223–228.Google Scholar
  52. Mosquin, T. (1971). Competition for polinators as a stimulus for evolution of flowering time.Oikos 22: 398–402.Google Scholar
  53. Nuñez, J. (1982). Honeybee foraging strategies at a food source in relation to its distance from the hive and the rate of sugar flow.J. Agric. Res. 21: 139–150.Google Scholar
  54. Opdam, P. (1990). Dispersal in fragmented populations: The key to survival. In Bunce, R. G. H., and Howard, D. C. (eds),Species Dispersal in Agricultural Habitats, Pinter Publishers in association with Institute of Terrestrial Ecology, London, pp. 3–17.Google Scholar
  55. Osborne, J. L., Williams, I. H., and Corbet, S. A. (1991). Bees, pollination and habitat change in the European community.Bee World 72: 99–113.Google Scholar
  56. Ott, J. R., Real, L. A., and Silverfine, E. M. (1985). The effect of nectar variance of bumblebee patterns of movement and potential gene dispersal.Oikos 45: 333–340.Google Scholar
  57. Pleasants, J. M. (1981). Bumblebee response to variation in nectar availability.Ecology 62: 1648–1661.Google Scholar
  58. Plowright, R. C., and Laverty, T. M. (1984). The ecology and sociobiology of bumbleeees.Annu. Rev. Entomol. 29: 175–179.Google Scholar
  59. Pollard, E. (1977). A method for assessing changes in the abundance of butterflies.Biol. Conserv. 12: 115–134.Google Scholar
  60. Procter, M., and Yeo, P. (1973).The Pollination of Flowers, William Collins Sons, Glasgow.Google Scholar
  61. Prys-Jones, O. E., and Corbet, S. A. (1991).Naturalists' Handbooks 6 Bumblebees, Richmond, Slough.Google Scholar
  62. Pyke, G. H. (1978). Optimal body size in bumblebees.Oecologia (Berl.) 34: 255–266.Google Scholar
  63. Rasmussen, I. R., and Brødsgaard, B. (1992). Gene flow inferred from seed dispersal and pollinator behaviour compared to DNA analysis of restriction site variation in a patchy population ofLotus corniculatus L.Oecologia (Berl.) 89: 277–283.Google Scholar
  64. Rathcke, B. J., and Jules, E. S. (1993). Habitat fragmentation and plant-pollinator interactions.Current Sci. 65: 273–277.Google Scholar
  65. Rau, P. (1924). Notes on captive colonies and homing ofBombus pennsylvanicus de Geer.Ann. Entomol. Soc. Am. 17: 368–380.Google Scholar
  66. Rodd, F. H., Plowright, R. C., and Owen, R. E. (1980). Mortality rates of adult bumble bee workers (Hymenoptera: Apidae).Can. J. Zool. 58: 1718–1721.Google Scholar
  67. Rotenberry, J. T. (1990). Variable flora phenology: Temporal resource heterogeneity and its implications for flower visitors.Holarct. Ecol. 13: 1–10.Google Scholar
  68. Saville, N. M. (1993).Bumblebee Ecology in Woodland and Arable Farmland, Ph.D. thesis, Cambridge University, Cambridge.Google Scholar
  69. Schmid-Hempel, P., and Schmid-Hempel, R. (1988). Parasitic flies (Conopidae, Diptera) may be important stress factors for the ergonomics of their bumblebee hosts.Ecol. Entomol. 13 469–472.Google Scholar
  70. Schoener, T. W. (1971). Theory of feeding strategies.Annu. Rev. Ecol. Syst. 3: 369–404.Google Scholar
  71. Schröder, C. (1912).Handbuch der Entomologie, G. Fischer, Jena.Google Scholar
  72. Senft, D. (1990). Protecting endangered plants.Agr. Res. 38: 16–18.Google Scholar
  73. Sladen, F. W. L. (1912).The Bumble-Bee, Its Life History and How to Domesticate It, Logaston Press, London.Google Scholar
  74. Soltz, R. L. (1986). Foraging path selection in bumblebees hindsight or foresight?Behaviour 99: 1–21.Google Scholar
  75. Suhonen, J. (1993). Predation risk influences the use of foraging sites by tits.Ecology 74: 1197–1203.Google Scholar
  76. Svensson, B. (1991).En studie av humlors (släktet Bombus)förekomst i olika biotoper under våren, främst med innriktning på bosökande drottningar, Ph.D. thesis, Uppsala Universität, Uppsala.Google Scholar
  77. Teräs, I. (1976). Flower visits of bumblebees,Bombus Latr. (Hymenoptera, Apidae) during one summer.Ann. Zool. Fenn. 13: 200–232.Google Scholar
  78. Teräs, I. (1979). Om humleindividernas blombesök.Entomol. Tidsskr. 100: 165–167.Google Scholar
  79. Teräs, I. (1983). Estimation of bumblebee densities (Bombus: Hymenoptera, Apidae).Acta Entomol. Fenn. 42: 103–113.Google Scholar
  80. Teräs, I. (1983). Flower visits of bumblebees (Hymenoptera, Apidae) during one day in northeastern Finland.Notulae Entomol. 65: 129–135.Google Scholar
  81. Thomson, J. D., Maddison, W. P., and Plowright, R. C. (1982). Behavior of bumble bee pollinators ofAralia hispida Vent. (Araliaceae).Oecologia (Berl.) 54: 326–336.Google Scholar
  82. Thomson, J. D., Peterson, S. C., and Harder, L. D. (1987). Response of traplining bumble bees to competition experiments: Shifts in feeding location and efficiency.Oecologia (Berl.) 71: 295–300.Google Scholar
  83. Tinbergen, N., Impekoven, M., and Franck, D. (1967). An experiment on spacing-out as a defense against predation.Behaviour 28: 307–321.Google Scholar
  84. Visscher, P. K., and Seeley, T. D. (1982). Foraging strategy of honeybee colonies in a temperate deciduous forest.Ecology 63: 1790–1801.Google Scholar
  85. von Hagen, E. (1986).Hummeln, bestimmen, ansiedeln, vermehren, schützen, Neumann-Neudamm, Melsungen, Germany.Google Scholar
  86. Waddington, K. D. (1983). Foraging behavior of pollinators. In Real, L. (ed.),Pollination Biology, Academic Press, New York, pp. 213–239.Google Scholar
  87. Zimmerman, M. (1982). Optimal foraging: Random movement by pollen collecting bumblebees.Oecologia (Berl.) 53: 394–398.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • W. E. Dramstad
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biology and Nature ConservationAgricultural University of NorwayÅsNorway

Personalised recommendations