Flower usage by bumble-bees: a basis for forage plant management.

Published online
13 Apr 1994
Content type
Journal article
Journal title
Journal of Applied Ecology

Fussell, M. & Corbet, S. A.

Publication language


The results of a survey carried out in Britain in 1987 and 1988 are recorded. Participants, mainly children, recorded the first visit for each bumble bee seen flower visiting within 1 m during walks on bright, calm days throughout the spring and summer. Although most recordings were made in SE England and remote habitats were under-recorded, the areas covered were those in which positive management for bumble bees was most feasible. Participants were asked to name the bees in terms of 5 colour groups. Black-bodied, red-tailed bees (mainly Bombus lapidarius) favoured legumes, composites and other clustered flowers, especially yellow ones. Banded red-tailed bees (B. pratorum) favoured actinomorphic hanging flowers. Browns (B. pascuorum) and 3-banded white-tailed bees (B. hortorum) preferred tubular, zygomorphic flowers. Two-banded white-tailed bees (B. terrestris, B. lucorum), were also found on these flowers but obtained nectar by robbing. Based on the observations in the survey, suggestions are made for using some plant species, e.g. Cotoneaster, to enhance bumble bee forage.

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