Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)



Committee Chair(s)

Karen M. Kapheim


Karen M. Kapheim


James P. Strange


Lee Rickords


Bumble bees (Bombus Latrielle) are a wide-spread group of pollinating insects that are important species to conserve across many environments to ensure both ecological and economic resiliency because they pollinate important agricultural, horticultural, and wild flora. Surprisingly, fundamental questions still remain about this important charismatic group of pollinators. The investigations in this thesis are but two of many topics that require further research. The topics investigated are understanding bumble bee nest site preferences and reproductive development of both sexes of bumble bees. The first experiment (Chapter 2) investigates whether nest boxes elevated off of the ground and attached to trees attract bumble bees to initiate and start nests. This study documents which species interact with these nest boxes the most. Aspect of box placement and blue and ultraviolet (UV) painted entrances are tested for increased nesting by vernal queen bumble bees. Bumble bees interacted with 34% of nest boxes with Bombus appositus being the most abundant species observed interacting with nest boxes. Aspect and entrance color showed no significance in increasing nest-box interactions by bumble bee queens. The second experiment (Chapter 3) is the first study to document developmental patterns in the internal reproductive anatomy of adult male bumble bees as they age and investigates differences between males from queenless microcolonies to males produced from standard queenright bumble bee colonies. The species used is a bumble bee of interest for pollination of greenhouse crops, Bombus vosnesenskii. Overall, male development continues for up to 7 days in adult males and overall slows down once adult males are 8 days old. No significant differences in development are observed between males from microcolonies and males from queenright colonies but the size of the male is shown to be significant in the reproductive development of male bumble bees. The reproductive development of B. vosnesenskii males offers the first insights into development that takes place in bumble bees post-eclosion. These experiments provide knowledge on fundamental questions still unanswered about the bumble bee life cycle. These experiments are much needed to further understand how to utilize and conserve bumble bees for ecological and economic benefit.



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