Comparisons of forager distributions from matched honey bee colonies in suburban environments

Keith D. Waddington, Thomas J. Herbert, P. Kirk Visscher, Monica Raveret Richter

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79 Scopus citations


We conducted experiments designed to examine the distribution of foraging honey bees (Apis mellifera) in suburban environments with rich floras and to compare spatial patterns of foraging sites used by colonies located in the same environment. The patterns we observed in resource visitation suggest a reduced role of the recruitment system as part of the overall colony foraging strategy in habitats with abundant, small patches of flowers. We simultaneously sampled recruitment dances of bees inside observation hives in two colonies over 4 days in Miami, Florida (1989) and from two other colonies over five days in Riverside, California (1991). Information encoded in the dance was used to determine the distance and direction that bees flew from the hive for pollen and nectar and to construct foraging maps for each colony. The foraging maps showed that bees from the two colonies in each location usually foraged at different sites, but occasionally they visited the same patches of flowers. Each colony shifted foraging effort among sites on different days. In both locations, the mean flight distances differed between colonies and among days within colonies. The flight distances observed in our study are generally shorter than those reported in a similar study conducted in a temperate deciduous forest where resources were less dense and floral patches were smaller.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)423-429
Number of pages7
JournalBehavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 1994


  • Apis mellifera
  • Colony foraging
  • Foraging sites
  • Honey bee
  • Recruitment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Ecology
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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