Flower constancy in bumblebees: a test of the trait variability hypothesis

  title={Flower constancy in bumblebees: a test of the trait variability hypothesis},
  author={Robert J. Gegear and Terence M. Laverty},
  journal={Animal Behaviour},

Pink flower preference in sunbirds does not translate into plant fitness differences in a polymorphic Erica species

Bird-pollinated plants typically have reddish flowers, but it is not clear whether this trait can be attributed to selection by birds. Here we experimentally test for the first time the foraging

Nectar distribution and nectarivorous bird foraging behaviour at different spatial scales

Bird-pollinated plants typically have reddish flowers, but it is not clear whether this trait can be attributed to selection by birds. Here we experimentally test for the first time the foraging

Flower constancy in insect pollinators: Adaptive foraging behaviour or cognitive limitation?

The observed behavioural flexibility suggests that flower constancy is a successful foraging strategy given the insect’s own information about different foraging options.

Novel pollen analogue technique shows bumblebees display low floral constancy and prefer sites with high floral diversity

Which flowering species and locations are visited by free-foraging Bombus terrestris (buff-tailed bumblebees) in species-rich semi-natural grassland and woodland is investigated, suggesting behavioural strategies that maximize the diversity of flower species visited, in line with the energetic costs and benefits hypothesis.

Legitimate visitors and nectar robbers on Trifolium pratense showed contrasting flower fidelity versus co-flowering plant species: could motor learning be a major determinant of flower constancy by bumble bees?

It is argued that handling skills required to forage flowers affected flower constancy observed in this study, and results indicate that factors other than perceptual stimuli and spatial distribution of plants affected foraging type constancy.

An investigation of temporal flowering segregation in species-rich grasslands

Differences found between species with simple and complex flowers suggest that levels of phenotypic specialisation should be taken into account in community level studies of pollination systems.


Results show that flower color as perceived by pollinators is significantly overdispersed within sites, and it is suggested that competition among close relatives may commonly underlie floral divergence, especially in species‐rich habitats where congeners frequently co‐occur.

Effects of spatial patterning of co-flowering plant species on pollination quantity and purity

Pollinator-mediated interactions between plant species depend on pollination quantity and purity, both of which can depend on spatial intermingling.

Induced mutations affecting pollinator choice in Mimulus lewisii (Phrymaceae)

This work observed the foraging behavior of bumblebees when presented with both wild-type Mimulus lewisii plants and each of three chemically induced single-locus mutants with altered floral phenotypes, including loss of the three lower petals, loss of nectar guides, and a change in petal color patterning.

Scents and Sensibilities: Reproductive isolation and pollinator mechanisms in two hybridizing Silene species

Emission of two further floral volatiles, benzyl acetate and 6-methyl-5-hepten-2-one, that were common in both species, was also linked to capsule infestation in this study, suggesting that some oviposition cues for H. bicruris are shared among the two Silene species.



Costs to foraging bumble bees of switching plant species

Bees foraging on simple flowers showed no tendency towards flower constancy, and switching between species did not increase handling times or handling errors, and foragers displayed strong constancy when visiting more complex flowers.

Laboratory analysis of flower constancy in foraging bumblebees: Bombus ternarius and B. terricola

The laboratory experiments suggest that bumblebees, once conditioned, are relatively ‘constant’ foragers despite changes in resource availability.

Flower Constancy: Definition, Cause, and Measurement

  • N. Waser
  • Biology
    The American Naturalist
  • 1986
A pollinator that restricts its visits to one flower type, even when other rewarding types are accessible, can be said to exhibit flower constancy, and the available experimental evidence suggests that constancy reflects behavioral constraints.

Floral constancy in bumble bees: handling efficiency or perceptual conditioning?

It is suggested that constancy is due to some form of perceptual conditioning whereby individual bees become temporarily sensitized to one or a few floral cues.

Can flower constancy in nectaring butterflies be explained by Darwin’s interference hypothesis?

Darwin’s interference hypothesis remains a valid explanation for flower constancy in foraging butterflies, and savings in handling time resulting from constancy must exceed increases in travelling time necessitated by ignoring other suitable species.

Foraging ecology of the Asian hive bee, Apis cerana indica, within artificial flower patches

Energy maximization (calories/time) was a robust predictor of A. cerana behaviour with respect to the sugar types and bees switched to the flower colour with the greater reward irrespective of flower patch colour dimorphism.

Floral traits and pollinator constancy: Foraging by native bees among three sympatric legumes

The foraging constancy of the solitary bee, Trichocolletes sp., was documented in a semi-arid ecosystem where three morphologically similar legumes co-occur. To quantify the degree of floral

Cognitive Ecology of Pollination: The effect of variation among floral traits on the flower constancy of pollinators

Plants should benefit if pollinators tend to move sequentially among flowers of the same species, a pattern that an optimally foraging pollinator should rarely adopt unless energetic returns from one plant species regularly exceed those from a mixed diet of some or all of the flower species available.

Effect of flower complexity on relearning flower-handling skills in bumble bees

It is proposed that it is more efficient for pollinators to remain constant to one plant species because switching to a second species interferes with their ability to recall a previously learned flower-handling technique.

Flower Constancy, Insect Psychology, and Plant Evolution

The way in which floral parameters, such as interplant distances, nectar rewards, flower morphology, and floral color affect constancy is considered, and the implications of pollinator constancy for plant evolution are discussed.