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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


item Forcella, Frank

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/16/2006
Publication Date: 2/16/2006
Citation: Forcella, F. 2006. Honeybees as novel herbicide delivery systems [abstract]. Weed Science Society of America. p. 90.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Fecundity of several invasive weeds depends on honeybees (Apis mellifera). Such bee-pollinated species include yellow starthistle (Centaurea solstitialis), YST, and many other temperate and tropical plants. Because bees already transport a granular formulation of gametes (pollen) to flowers, we may ask whether they also could transport granular formulations of gameticides (seed inhibitors). As bees exit beehives, can they be dusted with a gameticide, which then is carried to flowers of invasive weeds? If this is possible, then gameticide facsimiles of pollen might eliminate seed production and thereby improve the long-term management of invasive weeds. Several herbicides are non-toxic to bees and are good candidates as gameticides. Preliminary tests on YST show that glufosinate inhibits seed development by more than 95% when applied at rates as low as 2 nanograms to individual flower heads. Pilot tests with honeybees show appreciable overlap between loadings of glufosinate on bees and efficacies for seed inhibition. If bees can be used to transport gameticides, then the following benefits arise: (a) A novel solution will have been developed to manage YST, an important weed in both natural and agricultural areas. (b) "Microsite-specific" vectoring of gameticides poses little risk to non-target organisms or the public. (c) The natural and intense synergy between introduced honeybees and an important invasive plant will be exploited. Finally, (d) such a model system can be extended to many other bee-pollinated invasive species.

Last Modified: 06/23/2017
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