Earlier Morning Arrival to Pollen-Rewarding Flowers May Enable Feral Bumble Bees to Successfully Compete with Local Bee Species and Expand Their Distribution Range in a Mediterranean Habitat

Noam Bar-Shai*, Uzi Motro, Avishai Shmida, Guy Bloch*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

During recent decades, bumble bees (Bombus terrestris) have continuously expanded their range in the Mediterranean climate regions of Israel. To assess their potential effects on local bee communities, we monitored their diurnal and seasonal activity patterns, as well as those of native bee species in the Judean Hills. We found that all bee species tend to visit pollen-providing flowers at earlier times compared to nectar-providing flowers. Bumble bees and honey bees start foraging at earlier times and colder temperatures compared to other species of bees. This means that the two species of commercially managed social bees are potentially depleting much of the pollen, which is typically non-replenished, before most local species arrive to gather it. Taking into consideration the long activity season of bumble bees in the Judean hills, their ability to forage at the low temperatures of the early morning, and their capacity to collect pollen at early hours in the dry Mediterranean climate, feral and range-expanding bumble bees potentially pose a significant competitive pressure on native bee fauna. Their effects on local bees can further modify pollination networks, and lead to changes in the local flora.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number816
JournalInsects
Volume13
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 by the authors.

Keywords

  • Apis mellifera
  • Bombus terrestris
  • Mediterranean habitat
  • bumble bees
  • diurnal rhythms
  • native bees
  • pollen reward
  • pollination network
  • range extension

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