Bumblebees are important pollinators for wild and crop plants pollination. The massive decline of this group has a direct impact on the stability of wild and agricultural ecosystems. The habitat fragmentation and alteration of plant resources are among the major causes of wild bees decline in Belgium and worldwide. Since the second part of the last century, many wild flowers and entomophilous crops are becoming rare while new invasive herbaceaous species are spreading. These factors directly affect the survival of populations but also indirectly their physiological state.

N. Roger is developing researches in the laboratory of Zoology (UMons) to evaluate the impact of new pollen sources collected by bumblebees on their development and their immune system. Pollen of new and past resources are chemically described by polypeptides, amino acids and sterols. We want to characterize the effects of food resource quality during the twentieth century on the development and the immune state of several species of wild bumblebees in Belgium. We are testing different diet on bumblebees experiencing contrasted drift of their populations: Bombus terrestris, B. pratorum, B. hypnorum and B. jonellus. Using PCR-multiplex technics, we are also testing the influence of the presence of an invasive plant, Impatiens glandulifera, on the prevalence of different parasites of bumblebees.

This research is partly supported by grants from “Fonds de la Recherche Fondamentale et Collective”