Bee foraging ranges and their relationship to body size

Sarah S. Greenleaf, Neal M. Williams, Rachael Winfree, Claire Kremen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

777 Scopus citations


Bees are the most important pollinator taxon; therefore, understanding the scale at which they forage has important ecological implications and conservation applications. The foraging ranges for most bee species are unknown. Foraging distance information is critical for understanding the scale at which bee populations respond to the landscape, assessing the role of bee pollinators in affecting plant population structure, planning conservation strategies for plants, and designing bee habitat refugia that maintain pollination function for wild and crop plants. We used data from 96 records of 62 bee species to determine whether body size predicts foraging distance. We regressed maximum and typical foraging distances on body size and found highly significant and explanatory nonlinear relationships. We used a second data set to: (1) compare observed reports of foraging distance to the distances predicted by our regression equations and (2) assess the biases inherent to the different techniques that have been used to assess foraging distance. The equations we present can be used to predict foraging distances for many bee species, based on a simple measurement of body size.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)589-596
Number of pages8
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2007
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


  • Apoidea
  • Bee
  • Body size
  • Foraging distance
  • Pollination

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