When returning to the hive after foraging, bumblebees fly differently depending on whether they’ve collected pollen or nectar, researchers find. The load they carry affects stability and maneuverability, a study shows.
Unlike honeybees, which have dedicated foraging bees for nectar or pollen, bumblebees are generalists that will collect either pollen or nectar based on what the colony most needs.
The necessary tradeoff of stability or maneuverability depending on the load carried may be why bumblebees prefer to forage for pollen on windy days, to take advantage of the flight stability it offers during windy conditions, the researchers suggest in their study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
No matter what type of load they carry, bumblebees are known to be excellent fliers, able to keep aloft and forage in different types of weather.
Now, it seems that weather conditions may play a part in what type of food — nectar or pollen — a bumblebee chooses to go after on its aerial shopping trips, the researchers say.