New research shows that larger bumblebees are more likely to go out foraging in the low light of dawn.
University of Exeter scientists used RFID – similar technology to contactless card payments – to monitor when bumblebees of different sizes left and returned to their nest. The biggest bees, and some of the most experienced foragers (measured by number of trips out), were the most likely to leave in low light. Bumblebee vision is poor in low light, so flying at dawn or dusk raises the risk of getting lost or being eaten by a predator. However, the bees benefit from extra foraging time and fewer competitors for pollen in the early morning.
Comments from Katie Hall, SWBio DTP student:
Paper: Onset of morning activity in bumblebee foragers under natural low light conditions by Katie Hall, Théo Robert, Kevin J. Gaston and Natalie Hempel de Ibarra in Ecology and Evolution.