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Volume 37, Number 5, September-October 2006
Page(s) 517 - 532
Published online 12 September 2006
Apidologie 37 (2006) 517-532
DOI: 10.1051/apido:2006035

Increased density of honeybee colonies affects foraging bumblebees

Kerstin Walther-Hellwiga, Gerriet Fokulb, Robert Franklb, Ralph Büchlerc, Klemens Ekschmitta and Volkmar Woltersa

a  Justus Liebig University, IFZ - Department of Animal Ecology, H.-Buff-Ring 26-32, 35390 Giessen, Germany
b  Department of Biology, Nature Conservation, Marburg University, 35032 Marburg, Germany
c  Hessisches Dienstleistungszentrum für Landwirtschaft, Gartenbau und Naturschutz, Bieneninstitut, 35274 Kirchhain, Germany

(Received 17 September 2004 - Revised 17 November 2005 - Accepted 12 December 2005 - published online 12 September 2006)

Abstract - The increasing numbers of endangered wild bee species highlights the need for quantifying potential adverse effects of foraging honeybees. We analysed the response of bumblebees at genus and species level to experimentally increased honeybee density. The study was carried out on a Phacelia tanacetifolia field and adjacent patches of wild plants located in an agricultural landscape. Addition of one or ten A. m. ligustica colonies substantially increased total honeybee density not only on Phacelia but also on neighbouring patches of wild plants. The response of bumblebees (Bombus spp.) differed among species. Only minor spatial changes in the abundance of the short-tongued B. terrestris-group were observed on Phacelia. At wild plant patches, the B. lapidarius-group and the longer tongued bumblebee species (B. muscorum, B. sylvarum, B. pascuorum) responded with a shift between plant species. Limitations of competition avoidance in flower-impoverished landscapes are discussed.

Key words: Apis mellifera / Bombus / competition avoidance / foraging / exploitative competition

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© INRA, DIB-AGIB, EDP Sciences 2006