Reproductive success of a colony of the introduced bumblebee Bombus terrestris (L.) (Hymenoptera: Apidae) in a Tasmanian National Park




Abstract  Ever since a feral population of the bumblebee Bombus terrestris was found in suburban Hobart, on the Australian island of Tasmania, there has been ongoing debate surrounding the capacity of this species to utilise Australian native vegetation. Although several studies have reported B. terrestris foraging on Tasmanian native vegetation, doubts have been raised as to whether this reflects successful breeding in native vegetation. This study documents the success of a colony of B. terrestris in a Tasmanian National Park, isolated from urban and agricultural areas by 10 km of sea. Examination of the larval cocoons revealed that this colony had produced at least 304 new queens and 939 workers and drones. Pollen stores found in the colony were mostly from native plants, particularly Eucalyptus. These results strongly suggest that B. terrestris is able to reproduce successfully in parts of Australia that still support almost exclusively native vegetation.