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.
- cold tolerance
- rapid cold hardening