The central-place forager in a social-insect colony, e.g., the bumblebee, has been expected to maximize its net rate of energy gain to increase the success of its colony. In addition to foraging behavior, the nest location is an important factor for the success of the colony. The bumblebee's nest location would be affected by the spatial distribution of flowers and their food quality. In this study, we constructed a model to estimate bumblebee nest sites, using the net energy intake rate at available food sites for workers foraging from the nest site. We hypothesized that the probability of colony establishment at a site in coordinates (x, y) was high as the sum of the net energy intake rate I(x, y) increased. To obtain I(x, y), nectar standing crop, sugar concentration, and foraging time were measured for ten plant species in the study site covering 6.25 km2. As available flowers changed seasonally, I(x, y) was calculated for three periods: the end of April, the beginning of May, and the middle of May. To verify our hypothesis, we compared the estimations in our model with the actual nest sites of Bombus ardens found in the beginning of May and June by means of tracking bumblebees. From the results, we considered that the net energy intake rate at mid-May might represent the probability of colony establishment, because it could affect colony persistence and reproductive success.
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