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Journal of Hymenoptera Research




Pensoft Publishers

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Pollen is the primary protein and nutrient source for bees and they employ many different behaviors to gather it. Numerous terms have been coined to describe pollen gathering behaviors, creating confusion as many are not clearly-defined or overlap with existing terms. There is a need for a clear yet flexible classification that enables accurate, succinct descriptions of pollen gathering behaviors to enable meaningful discussion and comparison. Here, we classify the different pollen gathering behaviors into two main classes: active and incidental pollen collection. Active pollen collection is subdivided into six behaviors: scraping with the extremities, buzzing, rubbing with the body and/or scopae, rubbing with the face, tapping, and rasping. In addition to the active and incidental pollen gathering behaviors, many bees have an intermediate step in which they temporarily accumulate pollen on a discrete patch of specialized hairs. Each behavior is described and illustrated with video examples. Many of these behaviors can be further broken down based on the variations found in different bee species. Different species or individual bees mix and match these pollen collecting behaviors depending on their behavioral plasticity and host plant morphology. Taken together, the different behaviors are combined to create complex behavioral repertoires built on a foundation of simple and basic steps. This classification sets the groundwork for further research on various topics, including behavioral plasticity in different species, comparisons between generalists and specialists, and the relative effectiveness of different pollen gathering behaviors.