Within-plant foraging behavior of bees and its relationship to nectar distribution in anchusa strigosa

Ronen Kadmon, Avi Shmida, Reinhard Selten

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


The behavior of bees foraging for nectar on Anchusa strigosa was studied. The flowers of this species are irregularly distributed in three-dimensional space, and the corolla is violet in young flowers and blue in mature ones. Blue flowers produced nectar at higher rates and received more visits per unit time than violet flowers, which indicates that the bees were able to associate reward with flower color. Before the beginning of bee activity, blue flowers contained more nectar than violet flowers, but during foraging activity they contained lower amounts of nectar. This reversal is inconsistent with predictions of optimal foraging theory. Bees tended to commence foraging at bottom flowers and worked predominantly upwards. Nectar standing crop was uncorrelated with flower height before foraging activity and either uncorrelated or positively correlated with flower height during foraging activity. We relate the positive correlations to the observed “movement rules” (bottom flowers were depleted more frequently than upper ones) and suggest that in both our study and some previous studies these rules reduced, rather than increased, the probability of finding nectar-rich flowers.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)283-294
Number of pages12
JournalIsrael Journal of Botany
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Jan 1991

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We are grateful to D. Cohen, S. Ellner, K. Waddington, and two anonymous reviewers for valuable comments that contributed to this paper. We also thank M. Rahat and A. Brand for doing the field work and D. Rashty for writing computer programs for data analysis. The study was supported by the Volkswagen Foundation, grant 1/63691 to the ECORATIO group.


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