• Behaviour differentiation;
  • fitness;
  • Glechoma longituba;
  • nectar robbing;
  • net energy gain;
  • Xylocopa sinensis


Male and female nectar robbers may show significantly different behaviour on host plants and thus have different impacts on reproductive fitness of the plants. A 4-year study in natural populations of Glechoma longituba has shown that male carpenter bees (Xylocopa sinensis) are responsible for most of the nectar robbing from these flowers, while female bees account for little nectar robbing, demonstrating distinct behavioural differentiation between male and female bees in visiting flowers. The smaller male bee spends less time visiting a single flower than the larger female bee, consequently, the male bee is capable of visiting more flowers per unit time and has a higher foraging efficiency. Moreover, the robbing behaviour of female carpenter bees is more destructive and affects flower structures (ovules and nectaries) and floral life-span more than that of the male bee. According to the energy trade-off hypothesis, the net energy gain for male bees during nectar robbing greatly surpasses energy payout (17.72 versus 2.43 J), while the female bee net energy gain is barely adequate to meet energy payout per unit time (3.78 versus 2.39 J). The differences in net energy gain for male and female bees per unit time in nectar robbing are the likely cause of observed behavioural differences between the sexes. The differences in food resource preference between male and female bees constitute an optimal resource allocation pattern that enables the visitors to utilise floral resources more efficiently.