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      Bumble bees (Hymenoptera: Apidae: Bombus terrestris) collecting honeydew from the giant willow aphid (Hemiptera: Aphididae)

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      Journal of Hymenoptera Research

      Pensoft Publishers

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          Abstract

          Only rarely have bumble bees ( Bombus) been observed collecting honeydew from aphids (Aphididae) feeding on phloem sap. This behavior may be rare because the percentage of sugar in honeydew egested from aphids is generally well below the sugar concentration in floral nectars preferred by bumble bees. Nonetheless, in August 2018, near St. Buryan, Penzance, Cornwall, UK (56.0602N; -5.6034W) we observed large numbers of wild Bombusterrestris (Linnaeus) collecting honeydew from a colony of the giant willow aphid Tuberolachnussalignus Gmelin feeding on the stems of the willow Salixalba. Unlike aphid-tending ants, who glean fresh honeydew directly from the aphid anal opening, the bumble bees were collecting honeydew from leaf litter below the aphid colony. We hypothesized that honeydew collected from exposed ground surfaces was more concentrated due to evaporation under ambient conditions than that released directly from the anus (fresh honeydew). We thus monitored sugar concentrations of fresh honeydew and compared them with the concentrations of the crop contents of worker bumble bees foraging from the leaf litter. Our data show that the concentration of sugar in fresh honeydew was as much as 10% w/w lower than that collected from leaf surfaces, as measured from the crop contents of foragers. The unusually hot, dry weather in Cornwall may have enhanced evaporative concentration of honeydew while restricting floral nectar sources, thus favoring honeydew collection by B.terrestris, a generalist bumble bee forager.

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          Most cited references 21

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          Mutualism Between Ants and Honeydew-Producing Homoptera

           M. J. Way (1963)
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            Ant-aphid mutualisms: the impact of honeydew production and honeydew sugar composition on ant preferences.

            The honeydew composition and production of four aphid species feeding on Tanacetum vulgare, and mutualistic relationships with the ant Lasius niger were studied. In honeydew of Metopeurum fuscoviride and Brachycaudus cardui, xylose, glucose, fructose, sucrose, maltose, melezitose, and raffinose were detected. The proportion of trisaccharides (melezitose, raffinose) ranged between 20% and 35%. No trisaccharides were found in honeydew of Aphis fabae, and honeydew of Macrosiphoniella tanacetaria consisted of only xylose, glucose and sucrose. M. fuscoviride produced by far the largest amounts of honeydew per time unit (880 μg/aphid per hour), followed by B. cardui (223 μg/aphid per hour), A. fabae (133 μg/aphid per hour) and M. tanacetaria (46 μg/aphid per hour). The qualitative and quantitative honeydew production of the aphid species corresponded well with the observed attendance by L. niger. L. niger workers preferred trisaccharides over disaccharides and monosaccharides when these sugars were offered in choice tests. The results are consistent with the ants' preference for M. fuscoviride, which produced the largest amount of honeydew including a considerable proportion of the trisaccharides melezitose and raffinose. The preference of L. niger for B. cardui over A. fabae, both producing similar amounts of honeydew, may be explained by the presence of trisaccharides and the higher total sugar concentration in B. cardui honeydew. M. tanacetaria, which produced only low quantities of honeydew with no trisaccharides was not attended at all by L. niger.
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              Foraging habitats and foraging distances of bumblebees, Bombus spp. (Hym., Apidae), in an agricultural landscape

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Journal of Hymenoptera Research
                JHR
                Pensoft Publishers
                1314-2607
                1070-9428
                February 25 2019
                February 25 2019
                : 68
                : 75-83
                Article
                10.3897/jhr.68.30495
                © 2019

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