Free access
Volume 39, Number 4, July-August 2008
Page(s) 456 - 467
Published online 25 June 2008
Apidologie 39 (2008) 456-467
DOI: 10.1051/apido:2008021

Analysis of pollen loads in a wild bee community (Hymenoptera: Apidae) - a method for elucidating habitat use and foraging distances

Marion Beil1, Helmut Horn2 and Angelika Schwabe1

1  Darmstadt University of Technology, Dept. Biology (Geobotany/Vegetation Ecology), Schnittspahnstr. 4, 64287 Darmstadt, Germany
2  University of Hohenheim, Landesanstalt für Bienenkunde, August-von-Hartmann-Str. 13, 70599 Stuttgart, Germany

Received 20 November 2007 - Revised 28 February 2008 - Accepted 18 March 2008 - Published online 25 June 2008

Abstract - Resource utilisation and foraging ranges of Apidae (excluding Apis and Bombus) were studied in sandy grasslands of the temperate zone by pollen analysis combined with direct observation of bees. Plant-taxa composition of 558 pollen loads collected from 56 bee species was determined. We recorded flower-visits using plot-based observations and resource utilisation using pollen analysis. For the most important entomophilous plant species flower-visitation and pollen-analytical data correspond (e.g. Berteroa incana, Centaurea stoebe, Potentilla argentea). Whenever pollen of plant species that are limited in their occurrence could be detected, we were able to use pollen analysis to determine foraging distances, but not maximum foraging distances. Using tree pollen, minimum flight ranges up to 1250 m were documented even for bees with 7 mm body size. Thus pollen analysis not only provides valuable information about foraging on different spatial scales, but also enables foraging ranges to be calculated without experimental manipulation.

Key words: flight range / foraging range / spatial scales / pollen analysis / floral resources

© INRA, DIB-AGIB, EDP Sciences 2008