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3488Re: Bee story from West Quoddy, Maine

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  • Brian Dykstra
    Aug 16, 2014
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      Re West Quoddy Maine Bee Story
      Dear Trish and Betty,
      The story is not so surprising. Besides being capable of flying long distances, bumble bees are well known for employing a foraging strategy called traplining. I believe the 'trapline' name originates based on how fur trappers move along a set route, returning to the same locations. Once a resource rich locations (many flowers on a bush or vine - e.g. Lonicera - that is in-bloom) is discovered, bumblebees will memorize and faithfully return to it, and memorize multiple such locations that will be included on a repeated traveling forage-route; bumble bees will even memorize landmarks to help guide them. Darwin noted foraging routes being the same, year to year, even for male "humble" bees. Recent research by Mathieu Lihoreau, Lars Chittka, James D. Thomson, and many others on the topic of 'trapline foraging' is worth looking into if you are interested.  I have seen individual plants that are very well hidden hidden under shrubs, and isolated from others of their kid, visited by bumble bees who also looked like they were bus drivers on a regular route to bring the pollen and nectar home. Often, the denser the resources (flowers/plants/pollen/nectar) the more likely/often that spot will be included in a particular "trapline" foray.  All the best,
      Brian Dykstra 
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