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Costs of energy shortfall for bumble bee colonies predation social parasitism and brood development

Costs of energy shortfall for bumble bee colonies predation social parasitism and brood development

Canadian Entomologist 123(2): 283-294

Bumble bees rely on stored nectar to maintain high colony temperatures. This study examines some of the costs associated with exhausting stored nectar for a day in confined colonies of Bombus occidentalis Greene and B. melanopygus Nylander. Workers from energy-deprived colonies ceased incubating and allowed brood temperatures to drop to ambient levels. Workers from energy-rich colonies responded to a stimulated vertebrate predator by actively moving about and buzzing loudly (apparently searching for the source of disturbance), but those from energy-depleted colonies mostly remained stationary on the comb. Workers from energy-rich colonies responded to an intruding social parasite (a Psithyrus insularis Smith queen) by chasing and attacking it, whereas those from energy-depleted colonies adopted stationary threat postures. In both cases, the more successful defensive strategy of simultaneous attack by several workers was not employed by nectar-depleted colonies. Cooling of final-instar larvae and pupae added to their development times (disproportionately so in the case of pupae), but low temperature per se did not affect their probability of survival. Hence, the costs of short-term energy shortfall include increased susceptibility to predators and parasites and a lengthened period of development. These costs probably relate to energy stores in a nonlinear manner, providing the foundation upon which risk-sensitive foraging decisions can be based.

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Accession: 007165658

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DOI: 10.4039/Ent123283-2

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