Материал из Антэкология /// Anthecology
Optimal Foraging: Random Movement by Pollen Collecting Bumblebees
Two bumblebee species, Bombus bifarius and B. flavifrons, forage randomly with respect to direction when gathering pollen on Potentilla gracilis. Bees avoid revisiting flowers by being able to differentiate recently visited from unvisited flowers. This recognition occurs while bees are flying over open flowers and appears to be a response to the amount of available pollen within flowers. Random foraging with respect to direction is the optimal strategy when the probability of flower revisitation is low. Bumblebees appear to be moving preferentially between nearest neighbors, again as predicted by foraging theory. This behavior causes the establishment of pollen patches in the P. gracilis population. Unlike other pollinators studied in similar situations, bumblebees on P. gracilis do not forage utilizing an area-restricted searching behavior. Because floral reward quality can be assessed at low cost by bees foraging on P. gracilis, their tendency to move to nearby flowers even after encountering a poor quality blossom apparently yields a higher rate of net energy intake than does area-restricted searching. The data indicate that bumblebees exhibit great plasticity in foraging behavior and that they are able to forage efficiently under a wide range of environmental conditions.