Bumble bees are highly mobile species that sometimes have really long flight seasons that span the blooming period of multiple habitat types. In a new study published in the Journal of Applied Ecology, we used long-term data from Illinois to look at how food plants used by bumble bees have chnaged over time across different habitats. We find that despite peak food availability occurring in grasslands, forests provide the earliest abundance of food when queens are out foraging. However, these important early-season foods are in decline.

Paper Available Here:

J.M. Mola, L.L. Richardson, G. Spyreas, D.N. Zaya, and I.S. Pearse. 2021. Long-term surveys support declines in early-season forest plants used by bumble bees. Journal of Applied Ecology:1365-2664.13886. Online

Coverage by the University of Illinois here.

Graphical abstract: Top panel shows declines in food availability within forests since 1997. Bottom panel shows the seasonal overlap between food availability and records of the endangered Rusty Patched Bumble Bee