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Bumble bee (Hymenoptera: Apidae) community structure on two sagebrush steppe sites in southern Idaho

Posted date: October 09, 2012
Publication Year: 
Authors: Cook, Stephen P.; Birch, Sara M.; Merickel, Frank W.; Lowe, Carrie Caselton; Page-Dumroese, Deborah S.
Publication Series: 
Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Source: The Pan-Pacific Entomologist. 87(3): 161-172.


Although sagebrush, Artemisia spp., does not require an insect pollinator, there are several native species of bumble bees, Bombus spp. (Hymenoptera: Apidae), that are present in sagebrush steppe ecosystems where they act as pollinators for various forbs and shrubs. These native pollinators contribute to plant productivity and reproduction. We captured 12 species of bumble bees (437 individuals) at two sites during this study. The three most commonly captured species of Bombus at the first site (Red Mountain in the Targhee-Caribou National Forest) were B. rufocinctus Cresson, B. fervidus and B. melanopygus Nylander. Bombus fervidus dominated the trap catch at the second site (Lave Lake Land and Livestock) followed by B. rufocinctus and B. californicus consanguineus Smith. When numerous species of bumble bees co-occur on a given site, the community must have some mechanism for partitioning the available resources for the coexistence to occur. Along with temporal separation that was demonstrated by monthly differences in the capture of several of the individual species of bumble bees at both study sites, differences in capture of individual species of bumble bees was influenced by trap color. The differences observed among the species of Bombus we captured at the two sites may serve to limit competitive interactions among some of the species. Further, more bumble bees were captured in traps placed in the plots with the lowest percentage of sagebrush in the canopy. The results suggest that sagebrush steppe habitats can harbor a diverse community of native bumble bees and that multiple Bombus species can coexist on these sites. To maintain these diverse bumble bee communities, some portion of the sites should be managed to have little to no sagebrush in the canopy.


Cook, Stephen P.; Birch, Sara M.; Merickel, Frank W.; Lowe, Carrie Caselton; Page-Dumroese, Deborah. 2011. Bumble bee (Hymenoptera: Apidae) community structure on two sagebrush steppe sites in southern Idaho. The Pan-Pacific Entomologist. 87(3): 161-172.