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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Pollinator Genetics and Pollination: Breeding Apis for Cranberries

Authors
item Cane, James
item Schiffhauer, Daniel - RUTGERS UNIVERSITY

Submitted to: Ecological Entomology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: July 1, 2000
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Honeybee foragers actively harvest pollen from cranberry flowers by drumming or stroking the anthers. We show these foragers to be superior cranberry pollinators. More pollen-foragers (86%) delivered pollen in excess of that needed for fruit set, compared with only 50% of nectar- foragers. Stronger colonies fielded more pollen foragers, but syrup supplementation did not enhance pollen foraging. Colonies headed by queens bearing a heritable pollen-hoarding trait harvested significantly more pollen (and so presumably field more pollen- foragers) than standard colonies. Fielding more pollen-foragers translates into delivering more effective cranberry pollinators for a honey bee colony of a given size. Genetic polymorphisms of flowering plants are known to influence foraging behaviors of pollinators; however, no heritable polymorphism of a pollinator is known to influence its efficacy as a pollinator. Cranberry flowers require bee visitation for pollination. Honey bees visit cranberry flowers for nectar but rarely pollen if alternative floral species exist nearby. Floral stigmas of managed cranberries visited once by pollen-foraging honey bees received an average 4-fold more pollen than flowers visited by mere nectar foragers, even when the latter made stigmatic contact. This is the first study to link pollinator genetics and resultant pollination efficiency, in this case the consequence of a bee's predilection for actively harvesting pollen and that behavior's associated superiority for pollination efficiency.

Technical Abstract: Honeybee foragers actively harvest pollen from cranberry flowers by drumming or stroking the anthers. We show these foragers to be superior cranberry pollinators. More pollen-foragers (86%) delivered pollen in excess of that needed for fruit set, compared with only 50% of nectar- foragers. Stronger colonies fielded more pollen foragers, but syrup supplementation did not enhance pollen foraging. Colonies headed by queens bearing a heritable pollen-hoarding trait harvested significantly more pollen (and so presumably field more pollen- foragers) than standard colonies. Fielding more pollen-foragers translates into delivering more effective cranberry pollinators for a honey bee colony of a given size. Genetic polymorphisms of flowering plants are known to influence foraging behaviors of pollinators; however, no heritable polymorphism of a pollinator is known to influence its efficacy as a pollinator. Cranberry flowers require bee visitation for pollination. Honey bees visit cranberry flowers for nectar but rarely pollen if alternative floral species exist nearby. Floral stigmas of managed cranberries visited once by pollen-foraging honey bees received an average 4-fold more pollen than flowers visited by mere nectar foragers, even when the latter made stigmatic contact.

Last Modified: 10/24/2014