SMALL FRUIT CULTURAL AND GENETIC RESEARCH FOR THE MID-SOUTH
Location: Southern Horticultural Research
Title: Biology and Management Potential for Three Orchard Bee Species (Hymenoptera: megachilidae): Osmia Ribifloris Cockerell, O. Lignaria (say) and O. Chalybea Smith with Emphasis on the Former
Submitted to: Acta Horticulturae
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: September 4, 2008
Publication Date: June 5, 2009
Citation: Sampson, B.J., Cane, J.H., Stringer, S.J., Spiers, J.M., Kirker, G.T. 2009. Biology and Management Potential for Three Orchard Bee Species (Hymenoptera: megachilidae): Osmia Ribifloris Cockerell, O. Lignaria (say) and O. Chalybea Smith with Emphasis on the Former. Acta Horticulturae (ISHS) 810:549-556.
Interpretive Summary: Three species of orchard bees were tested as blueberry pollinators in Alabama, Mississippi and Texas. One exotic species imported from western States (CA, UT, TX) showed the most promise as commercial blueberry pollinators. Two native species of orchard bees were commonly found nesting in southern blueberry fields, but they would be much better pollinators of crops such as apples, cherries and perhaps sunflowers and jujube.
What follows is a manual for propagating docile orchard bees for blueberry pollination, esp. Osmia ribifloris. Before we introduce O. ribifloris or any other species to a blueberry farm commercially, we have yet to rear enough adults for field-scale releases, we still need to design cheaper, lightweight nesting materials and then increase grower awareness of the bee’s value. It is hoped that by propagating the bee on their farms, berry producer’s will gain a secondary source of revenue from the sale of surplus Osmia cocoons and nesting supplies. Results we present here represent 14 years of rearing orchard bees in the Deep South (Alabama and Mississippi) for blueberry pollination. These results should apply to other related bee species in blueberry growing regions west of the Mississippi River (e.g., TX, CA and OR).