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Volume 39, Number 4, July-August 2008
Page(s) 419 - 427
Published online 25 June 2008
Apidologie 39 (2008) 419-427
DOI: 10.1051/apido:2008020

Foraging distance in Bombus terrestris L. (Hymenoptera: Apidae)

Stephan Wolf and Robin F.A. Moritz

Institut für Biologie / Institutsbereich Zoologie, Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg, Germany

Received 11 October 2007 - Revised 7 February 2008 - Accepted 25 February 2008 - Published online 25 June 2008

Abstract - A major determinant of bumblebees pollination efficiency is the distance of pollen dispersal, which depends on the foraging distance of workers. We employ a transect setting, controlling for both forage and nest location, to assess the foraging distance of Bombus terrestris workers and the influence of environmental factors on foraging frequency over distance. The mean foraging distance of B. terrestris workers was 267.2 m $\pm $ 180.3 m (max. 800 m). Nearly 40% of the workers foraged within 100 m around the nest. B. terrestris workers have thus rather moderate foraging ranges if rewarding forage is available within vicinity of the nests. We found the spatial distribution and the quality of forage plots to be the major determinants for the bees foraging decision-making, explaining over 80% of the foraging frequency. This low foraging range has implications for using B. terrestris colonies as pollinators in agriculture.

Key words: Bumblebee / foraging / pollination / decision-making

© INRA, DIB-AGIB, EDP Sciences 2008