, Volume 95, Issue 9, pp 845–850 | Cite as

The interaction of temperature and sucrose concentration on foraging preferences in bumblebees

  • Heather M. Whitney
  • Adrian Dyer
  • Lars ChittkaEmail author
  • Sean A. Rands
  • Beverley J. Glover
Original Paper


Several authors have found that flowers that are warmer than their surrounding environment have an advantage in attracting pollinators. Bumblebees will forage preferentially on warmer flowers, even if equal nutritional reward is available in cooler flowers. This raises the question of whether warmth and sucrose concentration are processed independently by bees, or whether sweetness detectors respond to higher sugar concentration as well as higher temperature. We find that bumblebees can use lower temperature as a cue to higher sucrose reward, showing that bees appear to process the two parameters strictly independently. Moreover, we demonstrate that sucrose concentration takes precedence over warmth, so that when there is a difference in sucrose concentration, bees will typically choose the sweeter feeder, even if the less sweet feeder is several degrees warmer.


Pollination Sensory ecology Sensory integration Sweetness detection 



We thank Tom Collett and Simon Laughlin for discussions and Lucy Sandbach and David Prince for help with data collection. The project is funded by NERC grant NE/C000552/1. AGD is supported by ARC DP0878968.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Heather M. Whitney
    • 1
  • Adrian Dyer
    • 1
    • 2
  • Lars Chittka
    • 3
    Email author
  • Sean A. Rands
    • 4
  • Beverley J. Glover
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Plant SciencesUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK
  2. 2.Brain and Behaviour Research Centre, Department of PhysiologyMonash UniversityClaytonAustralia
  3. 3.School of Biological and Chemical SciencesQueen Mary University of LondonLondonUK
  4. 4.Centre for Behavioural Biology, Clinical Veterinary ScienceUniversity of BristolLangfordUK

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