How and why do nectar-foraging bumblebees initiate movements between inflorescences of wild bergamot Monarda fistulosa (Lamiaceae)?

Summary

By experimental manipulation of the nectar in flowers, I characterized the decision-making process used by nectar-gathering bumblebees for initiating movements between inflorescences of wild bergamot. The decision-making process has these characteristics: departure from an inflorescence is less likely as nectar rewards increase; departure decisions are based on the amount of nectar in the last flower probed and are not influenced by the nectar rewards in either the previously probed flower or the previously visited inflorescence; the number of flowers already probed at an inflorescence influences departure decisions weakly; a bees' response (to stay or to depart) to a given size of nectar reward is variable. Since previously proposed foraging rules do not accord with this description, I propose a new rule. I show by experiment that the movements made by bumblebees enhance foraging success.

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Cresswell, J.E. How and why do nectar-foraging bumblebees initiate movements between inflorescences of wild bergamot Monarda fistulosa (Lamiaceae)?. Oecologia 82, 450–460 (1990). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00319785

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Key words

  • Bumblebees
  • Bergamot
  • Foraging
  • Nectar
  • Optimal foraging theory