Ecological Research

, Volume 25, Issue 3, pp 639–646 | Cite as

Do pollen diets vary among adjacent bumble bee colonies?

Original Article


Central-place foragers, such as bumble bees, are often constrained by their location when collecting resources to provide their young. We compared the resource use (pollen diets) among seven feral colonies of Bombus ardens located in an area of 2.5 × 2.5 km2. Because this area was likely to be within their maximum foraging distance, most floral resources could have been accessible to all colonies alike. Similarities in pollen diets among these colonies may suggest that the surrounding resources determine resources use, while deviations from this could reveal other factors that affect resources use among colonies. We examined if colonies showed similarities in pollen diets and if colonies do differ in pollen diets, we investigated whether factors, such as establishment year, colony size, and location, affected the colony pollen diets. We found that while the choices of floral resources were similar, the proportional use of the floral resources were significantly different, suggesting that the surrounding resources do not solely determine resource use among colonies. Further analyses showed that the dissimilarity of pollen diets between two colonies increased as spatial distance decreased, as the temporal distances increased, and as the difference in colony size increased. We found that other than differences in annual variances of resources distribution, colony size was the prominent factor that affected the resource use of our seven colonies. We propose that colony-size-dependent work-force differences and other unidentified colony-size-related factors could have significant effects on floral use among colonies overlapping spatially and temporally.


Bumble bee Foraging range Intra-specific Small-scale landscape Work-force 


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Copyright information

© The Ecological Society of Japan 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Integrative Environmental Sciences, Graduate School of Life and Environmental SciencesUniversity of TsukubaTsukubaJapan

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