Differences in flight activity and in the percentages of pollen foragers between commercially managed honey bees, Apis mellifera L. (Hymenoptera: Apidae), of two stocks (USDA–ARS Russian, n = 41 colonies; and Italian, n = 43 colonies) were evaluated in an almond, Prunus dulcis (Miller) D. A. Webb, orchard in Kern Co., CA, during February and March 2002. Flight activity was measured by taking 1-min counts of bees exiting colonies on each of 9 d. Flight activity was best predicted with a model containing the effects of colony size (populations of adult bees and sealed brood), temperature, time of day, the interaction of adult bee population with temperature, and the interaction of adult bee population with time of day. Flight increased linearly with adult bee and brood population, had a quadratic relationship with temperature (increasing, but less so at higher temperatures), and had a quadratic relationship with time of day (decreasing, but less so at later times). Larger colonies had more response to changing temperatures and less response to different times of day than small colonies. Bee type had no direct influence on flight activity at any given colony size, temperature, or time of observation or when evaluated using a reduced data set retaining 34 Italian colonies and 32 Russian colonies whose mean sizes were equal. Overall, however, Russian colonies were less populous by about one-fourth and so fielded on average 71% of the foragers that Italian colonies did. Pollen collection was measured by capturing returning foragers on 4 d. The percentages of foragers with pollen were not different for the bee types.
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Vol. 99 • No. 5