Free Access
Volume 25, Number 4, 1994
Page(s) 375 - 383
Apidologie 25 (1994) 375-383
DOI: 10.1051/apido:19940404

The foraging behaviour of honey bees (Apis mellifera L) and bumble bees (Bombus spp) on cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon Ait)

K.E. MacKenzie

Department of Entomology, Comstock Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853-0999, USA

Abstract - The behaviour of honey bees and bumble bees while foraging on cultivated cranberry in southeastern Massachusetts was studied. Bumble bees were much more consistent foragers than are honey bees. Whether collecting nectar or pollen, bumble bees almost always approached a flower in a manner that pollen transfer could occur. Honey bees foraged for nectar legitimately or illegitimately by probing at the base of the flower. Although they rarely forage pollen on cranberry, a few honey bee foragers collected pollen by drumming the anthers with their forelegs. Significantly fewer honey bees foraged legitimately for nectar or collected pollen than did bumble bees. In addition, honey bees had more mixed pollen loads and were slower foragers on cranberry than were bumble bees. Thus, bumble bees appear to be better cranberry pollinators than honey bees, and methods of using bumble bees as managed pollinators of cranberry should be developed.

Key words: Apis mellifera / Bombus spp / cranberry / pollination / foraging