Journal of Insect Conservation

, Volume 13, Issue 2, pp 177–181 | Cite as

Evidence for competition between honeybees and bumblebees; effects on bumblebee worker size

  • David GoulsonEmail author
  • Kate R. Sparrow
Original Paper


Numerous studies suggest that honeybees may compete with native pollinators where introduced as non-native insects. Here we examine evidence for competition between honeybees and four bumblebee species in Scotland, a region that may be within the natural range of honeybees, but where domestication greatly increases the honeybee population. We examined mean thorax widths (a reliable measure of body size) of workers of Bombus pascuorum, B. lucorum, B. lapidarius and B. terrestris at sites with and without honeybees. Workers of all four species were significantly smaller in areas with honeybees. We suggest that reduced worker size is likely to have implications for bumblebee colony success. These results imply that, for conservation purposes, some restrictions should be considered with regard to placing honeybee hives in or near areas where populations of rare bumblebee species persist.


Bombus Apis mellifera Floral resources Foraging Resource limitation 



Thanks to Jennifer Harrison-Cripps who helped with the initial bee survey.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Biological and Environmental SciencesUniversity of StirlingStirlingUK

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