Does the introduced bumblebee, Bombus terrestris (Apidae),
prefer flowers of introduced or native plants in Australia?
Andrew B. Hingston
Australian Journal of Zoology>
Geography and Environmental Studies, University of Tasmania, Private Bag
78, Hobart, Tas. 7001, Australia. Email: email@example.com
Proponents of importation of the European bumblebee, Bombus
terrestris (L.), into Australia for pollination of commercial
greenhouse crops argue that this species will have little impact on
Australian native ecosystems because it prefers to forage on flowers of
introduced species of plants rather than Australian native plants.
However, data presented as evidence of preference for introduced plants
have been equivocal. This study compared the attractiveness of introduced
and Australian native plants to free-foraging B. terrestris in a
garden at the interface between an urban area and native vegetation in the
Australian island of Tasmania, where a feral population of B.
terrestris had been established for over 10 years. No evidence was
found to support the proposal that B. terrestris forages on flowers
of introduced plants in preference to those of Australian native plants.
The numbers of B. terrestris seen foraging per 1000 flowers did not
differ significantly between introduced plants and Australian native
plants, and the preferred food sources of B. terrestris included
flowers of both introduced and Australian native species. Because B.
terrestris forages frequently on many species of both introduced and
native plants, assessments of its ecological impacts must include the
effects of altered pollination on recruitment rates in both introduced
weeds and native plants, and reduced quantities of nectar and pollen of
native plants on recruitment rates of dependent fauna.
Australian Journal of Zoology 53(1) 2934
© CSIRO 2005