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Re: surveying bumble bees in urban areas

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  • pollinator2001
    ... My own personal observation is that different species of bumblebees are often working different species of plants. And Bombus impatiens, in my experience,
    Message 1 of 3 , Oct 15, 2011
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      --- In beemonitoring@yahoogroups.com, "chrisu875" <cu@...> wrote:
      >
      > Hi, all-
      >
      > I'm looking for some input. I have been asked to join a group of researchers studying insect diversity across an urban gradient. My role is to look at bumble bees.

      > Do you think that bringing the same blossoming plant around with me and netting bees visiting that plant would work?


      My own personal observation is that different species of bumblebees are often working different species of plants. And Bombus impatiens, in my experience, works the widest range of plants here in South Carolina. (It's also the only species that is still common around here.) B. pensylvanicus is much more restricted.

      There is also the factor of tongue length and the depth of the corollas. Shorter toungued Bombus may not be able to work some flowers because of this.

      Another factor is the species that are already being foraged may be different from one area to another. If you carry in a plant that they are already habituated to, they will tend to notice it faster than a new flower species.

      All in all, I think carrying flower around, would tend to skew the results.

      Better to learn the gamut of plant species that they do work in the region and teach yourself to be observant.

      Just my opinion...I'm not an expert.

      Dave
      Bumblebee watcher
    • Elaine Evans
      I agree that catching the bees at the flowers is best. I prefer catching them directly into containers right at the flowers rather than catching them in nets
      Message 2 of 3 , Oct 16, 2011
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        I agree that catching the bees at the flowers is best. I prefer
        catching them directly into containers right at the flowers rather
        than catching them in nets and then transferring them to containers. I
        use snack size reusable plastic tupperware type containers. Nets are
        super handy if they are foraging in tall shrubs or trees, though.

        I also agree that although they are generalists, not all bumble bees
        visit the same flower species. A better way to standardize across the
        gradient would be to standardize your search effort. Cover the same
        area in the same amount of time. Floral resource density will vary
        across your urban gradient, so get measures of that. Hopefully you'll
        have the time and resources to sample enough sites so that this
        variation can be dealt with.

        Best of luck.
        -Elaine Evans
        www.befriendingbumblebees.com
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