Bombus terrestris central place foraging navigation home range Bumblebees
Goulson D, Stout JC, Homing ability of the bumblebee, Bombus terrestris, Apidologie, 32, 2001, 105 - 111
The ability of bumblebees to locate their nest site following artificial displacement was
investigated. Bombus terrestris (Hymenoptera: Apidae) workers were marked with numbered tags and
displaced up to 15 km from their nest. Bees returned from distances of up to 9.8 km, with the proportion
of bees returning declining with distance of the release site from the nest. Bees were slow to return
to their nests, often taking several days when even the most distant sites were all within 1 h direct flight
time. These findings concur with those of earlier studies on various Hymenoptera, and they are
consistent with previous suggestions that the most probable homing mechanism is a systematic
search until familiar landmarks are encountered. Our results also suggest that the natural foraging range
of B. terrestris may span several km.
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