Free access
Volume 37, Number 3, May-June 2006
Page(s) 341 - 350
Published online 10 March 2006
Apidologie 37 (2006) 341-350
DOI: 10.1051/apido:2006004

A modular system for trapping and mass-marking bumblebees: applications for studying food choice and foraging range

Andrew P. Martina, Norman L. Carrecka, Jennifer L. Swaina, Dave Goulsonb, Mairi E. Knightb, Roddy J. Halec, Roy A. Sandersonc and Juliet L. Osbornea

a  Plant and Invertebrate Ecology Division, Rothamsted Research, Harpenden, Hertfordshire, AL5 2JQ, UK
b  Ecology and Evolution Group, University of Southampton, Bassett Crescent East, Southampton, SO16 7PX, UK
c  Institute for Research on Environment and Sustainability, Devonshire Building, University of Newcastle, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, NE1 7RU, UK

(Received 12 May 2005 - revised 10 August 2005 - accepted 22 August 2005 - published online 10 March 2006)

Abstract - Two new techniques for the study of bumblebee behavioural ecology are described. Interchangeable nest entrance modules allow (i) unimpeded bee traffic, (ii) trapping of incoming foragers for counting and removal of pollen loads; or (iii) colour marking of bees leaving the colony using dye powder. The forager traps captured all returning foragers while in place and 35% of them were carrying pollen loads. During the four week experiment, the percentage of mixed pollen loads decreased and the proportion of pollen loads from mass-flowering resources increased. The dye dispensers automatically marked 86% of foragers as they left the colony (approximately 28 bees per hour), and 37% of returning bees were marked. Different colours were used for bees in each colony, which could then be observed in the field.

Key words: Bombus / pollen collection / mark-reobservation / foraging patterns / mass marking / experimental device

Corresponding author: Andrew P. Martin

© INRA, DIB-AGIB, EDP Sciences 2006