Honey bees and bumble bees respond differently to inter- and intra-specific encounters
Multiple bee species may forage simultaneously at a common resource. Physical encounters among these bees may modify their subsequent foraging behavior and shape pollinator distribution and resource utilization in a plant community. We observed physical encounters between honey bees, Apis mellifera, and bumble bees, Bombus impatiens, visiting artificial plants in a controlled foraging arena. Both species were more likely to leave the plant following an encounter with another bee, but differed in their responses to intra- and inter-specific encounters. A. mellifera responded similarly to an encounter with either species. However, most B. impatiens that encountered A. mellifera discontinued foraging at the observed plant, but exhibited only a slight decrease in foraging following an intraspecific encounter. Interactions between bees that elicit changes in foraging behavior may have important implications for the pollination of wild and managed plants.
KeywordsApis Bombus competition interspecific avoidance pollination
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