, Volume 49, Issue 1, pp 120–130 | Cite as

Patrolling and scent-marking behavior in Japanese bumblebee Bombus ardens ardens males: alternative mating tactic?

Original article


Previous reports note that males of the Japanese bumblebee Bombus ardens ardens perform nest surveillance to mate with new queens. Here, we report that males of this species also perform patrolling and scent-marking for mating. We observed that many B. ardens ardens males fly together from May to June in circular paths through a wooded area in Tokyo, Japan. The flight activity is bimodal with peaks in the morning and late afternoon. When tethered new queens were presented at a focal point, males approached, touched, or grabbed them but ignored them at a foraging site. Males performed scent-marking on tree leaves only in the early morning (05:30 to 07:30), and compounds from the labial gland of B. ardens ardens males were detected on a scent-marked leaf. Based on these findings and previous reports, we conclude that males of this species have at least two mating tactics or strategies: nest surveillance and patrolling.


male patrolling premating behavior reproductive strategy sex pheromone 



We thank Messrs. M. Hayashi, K. Matsuo, K. Matsushima, Y. Yamaguchi, and M. Mochida for assistance in the flight path survey. We are also grateful to Dr. S. Asada who told us about seeing B. ardens ardens mating on campus. This study was partly supported by a Kakenhi grant [26850219] to K.H. by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sport, Science and Technology, Japan.

Author Contributions

KH and RK designed and conducted experiments. KH, RK, and MO participated in the interpretation of data. KH and RK wrote the paper. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Supplementary material

13592_2017_534_MOESM1_ESM.pptx (62 kb)
ESM 1. (PPTX 62 kb)


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Copyright information

© INRA, DIB and Springer-Verlag France SAS 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Honeybee Science Research CenterTamagawa UniversityTokyoJapan
  2. 2.Graduate School of AgricultureTamagawa UniversityTokyoJapan

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