Local weather conditions affect forager size and visitation rate on bramble flowers (Rubus fruticosus) in bumble bees (Bombus spp)

Cassandra Uthoff*, Graeme Ruxton

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

Bumble bees (Bombus; Hymenoptera) are crucial pollinators for many agricultural crops, but their numbers have declined - with climate change as a possible driver. Different aspects of local weather conditions can have substantial effects on bumble bees’ ability to forage. Here we made 501 observations of bumblebee workers on bramble flowers (Rubus fruticosus) to explore how the characteristic sizes of foragers active and their individual rate of movement between flowers were correlated with aspects of weather. Firstly, we found that increased ambient temperature is correlated to reduced activity in larger workers. Moreover, while higher humidity was linked to an increase in smaller workers, an increase in cloud cover led their numbers to decrease. Visitation rate and temperature showed a significant negative relationship whereas no other weather aspect affected visitation rate significantly. Our results suggest that predicted rises in ambient temperatures will adversely affect bumble bee foraging, and particularly so for larger-bodied workers. We anticipate that this study can be used as a foundation for longer-term and more detailed studies on bumble bee foraging and colony performance. Such work is vital to identify management measures to mitigate pollinator declines and preserve food security.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-30
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Insect Behavior
Volume35
Early online date28 Apr 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2022

Keywords

  • Bumble bees
  • Pollinators
  • Climate change
  • Foraging

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