Nectar-collecting bumblebees are hypothesized to employ rules of movement which result in the maximum net rate of energy gain (i.e., are optimal). The optimal movement rules are derived from a mathematical model and are used to generate predicted patterns of movement. The predicted patterns are compared with field observations. These observations support the hypothesis. An important component of the mathematical model is the memory of the foraging animal. The field data have implications concerning the memory capabilities of the bumblebees.