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Diurnal activity, floral visitation and pollen deposition by honey bees and bumble bees on field-grown cucumber and watermelon

Written by
Journal of Apicultural Research
Vol. 41 (1-2) pp. 27 - 34
DOI
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Date
June 2002
 
Article Title

Diurnal activity, floral visitation and pollen deposition by honey bees and bumble bees on field-grown cucumber and watermelon
Author(s)

M S Stanghellini, J Ambrose, J R Schultheis

Abstract

Honey bees (Apis mellifera) and bumble bees (Bombus impatiens) were compared for three aspects of pollinating behaviour on field-grown cucumber (Cucumis sativus) and watermelon (Citrullus lanatus). We measured: (1), diurnal for­aging activity periods (as related to anthesis); (2), floral visitation rates (number of flowers vis­ited per min by individual foragers); and (3), stigmatic pollen deposition (number of pollen grains deposited on stigmas after single bee vis­its to female flowers). B. impatiens was more effective than A. mellifera for all three parame­ters on both crops. B. impatiens initiated forag­ing activity 15--40 min before A. mellifera; both species continued foraging until flowers closed in early afternoon. B. impatiens consistently vis­ited more flowers per min (P < 0 .001) and deposited equal or greater amounts of pollen (P < 0.001) than A. mellifera, particularly during the initial hours of floral anthesis which is when these crops are most receptive to pollination. The data additionally suggest that researchers evaluating different pollinator candidates should consider time-of-day effects when comparing pollen deposition rates between pollinators, as time-of-day had a marked influence on pollen deposition in these studies.

Keywords
Apis mellifera , honey bees, Bombus impatiens, bumble bees, Cucurbitaceae pollina­tion, pollen deposition, floral visitation rate, floral anthesis, alternative pollinators
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