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13 December 2023 Supplementing honey bee (Hymenoptera: Apidae) colonies with pollen increases their pollinating activity on nectariferous crops with anthers isolated from stigmas
Stan Chabert, Nicolas Morison, Marie-Josée Buffière, Laurent Guilbaud, Céline Pleindoux, Géraud de Premorel, Philippe Royer, Marie Harruis, Bernard E. Vaissière
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Abstract

The western honey bee (Apis mellifera L.) is the most globally used managed pollinator species, but it can have limited pollinating activity on nectariferous crops displaying anthers isolated from stigmas, i.e., when anthers are spatially or temporally separated from stigma within or between flowers. We supplemented honey bee colonies with pollen in the combs or in paste form laid on top of the hive frames to test if these treatments could reduce their pollen foraging and increase their pollinating activity in a monoecious and nectariferous cultivar of cantaloupe melon (Cucumis melo L.), in comparison with control colonies not supplemented. We recorded the pollen forager density per flower, the number of pollen grains deposited per stigma and their resulting fruit set, seed set and fruit mass, before and after the colony pollen supplementations. The number of pollen grains deposited by honey bees on stigmas increased gradually after pollen supplementation in the combs. But pollen foraging decreased only moderately, and no effect could be observed on any yield component except the seed set. On the other hand, there was no effect of the pollen paste laid on top of the frames either on stigmatic pollen loads, on colony pollen foraging or on any yield component. Supplementing honey bee colonies with pollen in the combs can therefore be an effective means for increasing their pollinating activity in nectariferous crops displaying anthers isolated from stigmas, e.g., Amaryllidaceae, Apiaceae, Cucurbitaceae, avocado, all hybrid seed productions. The context for the potential use of pollen substitutes is discussed.

Stan Chabert, Nicolas Morison, Marie-Josée Buffière, Laurent Guilbaud, Céline Pleindoux, Géraud de Premorel, Philippe Royer, Marie Harruis, and Bernard E. Vaissière "Supplementing honey bee (Hymenoptera: Apidae) colonies with pollen increases their pollinating activity on nectariferous crops with anthers isolated from stigmas," Journal of Economic Entomology 117(1), 43-57, (13 December 2023). https://doi.org/10.1093/jee/toad222
Received: 6 July 2023; Accepted: 27 November 2023; Published: 13 December 2023
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KEYWORDS
cantaloupe melon
honey bee colony
pollen supplementation
pollinating activity
stigmatic pollen load
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