The University of Southampton
University of Southampton Institutional Repository

Does intraspecific size variation in bumblebees allow colonies to efficiently exploit different flowers?

Does intraspecific size variation in bumblebees allow colonies to efficiently exploit different flowers?
Does intraspecific size variation in bumblebees allow colonies to efficiently exploit different flowers?
1. It has long been known that foraging bumblebee workers vary greatly in size, within species, and within single nests. This phenomenon has not been adequately explained. Workers of their relatives within the Apidae exhibit much less size variation.
2. For the bumblebee Bombus terrestris size, as measured by thorax width, was found to correspond closely with tongue length, so that larger bees are equipped to feed from deeper flowers.
3. The mean size of worker bees attracted to flowers was found to differ between plant species, and larger bees with longer tongues tended to visit deeper flowers.
4. Finally, handling time depended on the match between corolla depth and tongue length: large bees were slower than small bees when handling shallow flowers, but quicker than small bees when handling deep flowers.
5. Size variation within bumblebees may be adaptive, since it enables the colony as a whole to efficiently exploit a range of different flowers. Possible explanations for the marked differences in size variation exhibited by bumblebees compared with Apis species and stingless bees (Meliponinae) are discussed.
Apidae, Bombus, corolla depth, flower choice, polyethism, size
176-181
Peat, J.
9816534b-cf32-4703-8873-7883489865f6
Tucker, J.
124febb6-dc7f-4dab-b425-ff3e85c81593
Goulson, D.
edf7f1d7-7e58-40c3-88e8-81a43ca89efd
Peat, J.
9816534b-cf32-4703-8873-7883489865f6
Tucker, J.
124febb6-dc7f-4dab-b425-ff3e85c81593
Goulson, D.
edf7f1d7-7e58-40c3-88e8-81a43ca89efd

Peat, J., Tucker, J. and Goulson, D. (2005) Does intraspecific size variation in bumblebees allow colonies to efficiently exploit different flowers? Ecological Entomology, 30 (2), 176-181. (doi:10.1111/j.0307-6946.2005.00676.x).

Record type: Article

Abstract

1. It has long been known that foraging bumblebee workers vary greatly in size, within species, and within single nests. This phenomenon has not been adequately explained. Workers of their relatives within the Apidae exhibit much less size variation.
2. For the bumblebee Bombus terrestris size, as measured by thorax width, was found to correspond closely with tongue length, so that larger bees are equipped to feed from deeper flowers.
3. The mean size of worker bees attracted to flowers was found to differ between plant species, and larger bees with longer tongues tended to visit deeper flowers.
4. Finally, handling time depended on the match between corolla depth and tongue length: large bees were slower than small bees when handling shallow flowers, but quicker than small bees when handling deep flowers.
5. Size variation within bumblebees may be adaptive, since it enables the colony as a whole to efficiently exploit a range of different flowers. Possible explanations for the marked differences in size variation exhibited by bumblebees compared with Apis species and stingless bees (Meliponinae) are discussed.

Full text not available from this repository.

More information

Submitted date: 12 October 2004
Published date: April 2005
Keywords: Apidae, Bombus, corolla depth, flower choice, polyethism, size

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 56868
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/56868
PURE UUID: 119174ad-31de-4e4b-92b5-4c92ee16b7e0

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 06 Aug 2008
Last modified: 17 Jul 2017 14:30

Export record

Altmetrics

Contributors

Author: J. Peat
Author: J. Tucker
Author: D. Goulson

University divisions

Download statistics

Downloads from ePrints over the past year. Other digital versions may also be available to download e.g. from the publisher's website.

View more statistics

Atom RSS 1.0 RSS 2.0

Contact ePrints Soton: eprints@soton.ac.uk

ePrints Soton supports OAI 2.0 with a base URL of https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/cgi/oai2

This repository has been built using EPrints software, developed at the University of Southampton, but available to everyone to use.

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive cookies on the University of Southampton website.

×