The spatial distribution of foraging bumblebees, Bombus terrestris L. (Hymenoptera: Apidae), was studied in a greenhouse planted with two cultivars of tomato, Lycopersicum esculentum Mill. (Solanaceae), in two patches. In both patches, bumblebee densities per square meter were measured on plots, and the results showed that their densities were nearly similar. The densities of available flowers, their pollen production, and availability also were measured. Our results showed that, although the cultivars greatly differed in flower density, flower morphology, and pollen production, their pollen availability (i.e., pollen actually collected by bumblebees per square meter) was approximately the same. Therefore, the mean quantities of pollen collected per bumblebee were similar in each patch. Knowing that bumblebees do not visit different varieties randomly, our results suggest that the major factor affecting the bumblebee distribution among patches was the density of available resource. Results are discussed both from an applied point of view and in relation to the assumptions of the ideal free distribution theory.
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Vol. 99 • No. 5