Establishment risk of the commercially imported bumblebee Bombus terrestris dalmatinus—can they survive UK winters?

Emily L. Owen, Jeffrey S. Bale, Scott A. L. Hayward

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3 Citations (Scopus)
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Abstract

Bumblebees are regularly exported to countries outside their native range for the purposes of commercial pollination. In contrast to the tight regulations imposed on biological control introductions, the movement of bumblebees has largely been without risk assessment. This study represents the first formal assessment of establishment risk for Bombus terrestris dalmatinus in the UK. The ability of workers to survive winter conditions is seen as the primary barrier to establishment, given the year-round colony activity of this sub-species. We use standardised cold tolerance indices as outlined by the EU policy support action ‘REBECA’ as well as assessing rapid cold hardening (RCH) ability. Cold tolerance was comparable to that of the UK-native Bombus terrestris audax, including a strong RCH response. Results suggest that B. t. dalmatinus could survive mild UK winters in southern areas and potentially displace B. t. audax. The implications of ongoing climate change on establishment risks are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)66-75
JournalApidologie
Volume47
Issue number1
Early online date21 Jul 2015
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2016

Keywords

  • bumblebee
  • cold tolerance
  • rapid cold hardening
  • native
  • winter

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