Sci Rep. 2023 Jan 2;13(1):71. doi: 10.1038/s41598-022-26858-9.
In insect-pollinated plants, the foraging behavior of pollinators affects their pattern of movement. If distinct bee species vary in their foraging behaviors, different models may best describe their movement. In this study, we quantified and compared the fine scale movement of three bee species foraging on patches of Medicago sativa. Bee movement was described using distances and directions traveled between consecutive racemes. Bumble bees and honey bees traveled shorter distances after visiting many flowers on a raceme, while the distance traveled by leafcutting bees was independent of flower number. Transition matrices and vectors were calculated for bumble bees and honey bees to reflect their directionality of movement within foraging bouts; leafcutting bees were as likely to move in any direction. Bee species varied in their foraging behaviors, and for each bee species, we tested four movement models that differed in how distances and directions were selected, and identified the model that best explained the movement data. The fine-scale, within-patch movement of bees could not always be explained by a random movement model, and a general model of movement could not be applied to all bee species.