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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: Supplementary feeding of bumblebee Bombus colonies in the field enhances their reproductive success in a meadow at St-Jean-Chrysostome, Quebec, Canada

Published source details

Pelletier L. & McNeil J. N. (2003) The effect of food supplementation on reproductive success in bumblebee field colonies. Oikos, 103, 688-694


This study is summarised as evidence for the intervention(s) shown on the right. The icon shows which synopsis it is relevant to.

Reintroduce laboratory-reared bumblebee colonies to the wild Bee Conservation

A replicated controlled trial in Canada tested the effect of feeding captive-reared bumblebee colonies (29 colonies of the common eastern bumblebee B. impatiens, 16 colonies of the red-belted or tricolored bumblebee B. ternarius) sited in a flower-rich meadow, with sucrose solution and fresh pollen (Pelletier & McNeill 2003). Twenty-one colonies that were fed produced 56% more workers, and were almost four times as likely to produce new queens as those that were not fed. Fed colonies produced between 0 and 19 queens/colony on average, and control colonies between 0 and 14 queens/colony (the paper gives separate averages for each species and each year). Social parasitism by cuckoo bees was high in this study, with between one quarter and two thirds of colonies successfully usurped. The rate was not reduced by supplementary feeding.