Does interaction between bumblebees (Bombus ignitus) reduce their foraging area? Bee-removal experiments in a net cage

Takashi T. Makino, Satoki Sakai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


To examine whether the interaction between bumblebees, Bombus ignitus, reduces their foraging area, we conducted bee-removal experiments in a net cage. In the cage, we set potted Salvia farinacea plants, allowed bumblebees to forage freely on those plants, and followed their plant-to-plant movements to identify a bee with a relatively small foraging area. We then removed all the other foraging bees, except for the bee with a small foraging area, and observed the change of the foraging area of the focal bee under conditions of no interaction with other bees. After the removal of the other bees, all five bees tested enlarged their foraging areas, suggesting that the interaction between bees is an important determinant of their foraging areas. The result also means that bumblebees are able to adjust their foraging areas in response to other foragers, indicating the necessity for future studies to clarify what cues bees use to interact with other bees. Moreover, after the removal treatments, all five bees showed temporary increases in the number of flower probes per plant. This can be explained by their optimal foraging according to the "old" average intake rate for the plant population and by the delayed changes in response to the "new" high average energy intake rate after the bee-removal treatments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)617-622
Number of pages6
JournalBehavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2005 Apr 1


  • Bombus ignitus
  • Bumblebee
  • Foraging area
  • Spatial foraging pattern
  • Trapline

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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