Apidologie 31 (2000) 129-139
Does size matter? Bumblebee behaviour and the pollination of Cytisus scoparius
Jane Catherine Stout
Division of Biodiversity and Ecology, School of Biological Sciences,
University of Southampton, Bassett Crescent East, Southampton, SO16 7PX, UK
(Received 15 June 1999; revised 18 October 1999; accepted 6 November 1999)
The effects of forager body size and floral display size on pollinator behaviour were
assessed in a relatively specialised plant-pollinator system. Cytisus scoparius, which
has structurally complex, nectarless flowers is pollinated by foraging bumblebees. Variations
in bee body size affected the proportion of open flowers visited, the ability of bees to
trigger the pollination mechanism of flowers and handling times on open flowers. Smaller bees
handled flowers more successfully and efficiently than larger ones. Contrary to previous
reports, all bees preferred to visit open flowers and possible explanations for this are
discussed. Floral display size also affected behaviour as bees visited more flowers per plant
on larger plants, but visited a lower proportion of the available flowers. There was no
interaction between body size and floral display size, suggesting that bees of all sizes
respond in a similar manner to variations in floral display sizes. The potential impacts of
variations in bumblebee behaviour on plant reproductive success are discussed.
foraging behaviour / pollination / body size / floral display size / Bombus spp.
Correspondence and reprints: Jane Catherine Stout
Copyright INRA/DIB/AGIB/EDP Sciences
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