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Title: Pollen collection and honey bee forager distribution in cantaloupe

item REYES-CARRILLO, JOSE LUIS - Universidad Nacional Autonoma De Mexico
item Eischen, Frank
item CANO-RIOS, PEDRO - Instituto Nacional De Investigaciones Forestales Y Agropecuarias (INIFAP)
item RODRIGUEZ-MARTINEZ, RAFAEL - Universidad Nacional Autonoma De Mexico
item NAVA CAMBEROS, URBANO - Instituto Nacional De Investigaciones Forestales Y Agropecuarias (INIFAP)

Submitted to: Acta Zoologica Mexicana
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/8/2009
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary: The farming industry near Torreon, Coahuila, Mexico has, in recent years, shifted from grape to cantaloupe production. The importance of honey bee pollination for this crop is relatively well understood. However, in this area, the plants are kept in production for a much longer period than in the United States and this then requires an extended period of honey bee visitation. We have examined honey bee foraging behavior under these conditions. Honey bee visitation to cantaloupe flowers were monitored at different distances from the colonies, i.e. 25, 50, 75, and 100 meters, every 30min from 8.00 to 20.30hrs. No statistical differences in visitation was found with respect to distance from the hive. Bee visitation peaked between 10.30 and 14.30hrs. In a separate trial, the quantity of pollen collected from cantaloupe flowers was monitored hourly from 8.30 to 14.30hrs. The greatest amount of pollen was collected earliest in the morning and gradually declined thereafter, with small amounts collected after 12.30 hrs.

Technical Abstract: Honey bee (Apis mellifera, L.) pollen collection and forager distribution were examined during the summer of 2002 in a cantaloupe (Cucumis melo, L., Cruiser cv.) field provided with plastic mulch and drip irrigation. The experimental site was located near the INIFAP Campo Experimental La Laguna, Matamoros, Coahuila within La Laguna region, Mexico. Two trials were conducted in the same location, but were separated by an 800m wide pecan orchard. Both cantaloupe trials were planted the same date. Trial 1. Nine honey bee hives were placed in a three hectare field at the start of bloom. Each hive was fitted with a modified-Ontario pollen trap. The pollen was collected one day a week from each colony every hour beginning from 8.30hr to 14.30hr during the first four blooming weeks of the crop. Trial 2. Three weeks after the start of bloom, in a 10ha field, 30 honey bee colonies were located. In four randomly-selected rows of 105m long, 10m transects at 25, 50, 75, and 100m distances from the apiary were marked. The foraging bees were counted simultaneously at the transects every half hour from 7.30hr until 20.30hr at the same pollen collection-day during the third week of cantaloupe bloom. Pollen collection was higher early in the morning (22.6g per colony), dropping to medium amount from 9.30hr (13.7g), 10.30hr (12.5g) to 11.30hr (9.5) and remaining low from 12.30 through the afternoon (less than 2.6g per colony; P < 0.05). The distribution pattern showed that bees were in the cantaloupes after 8.00hr, reaching a maximum between 10.30hr and 14.30hr when the bees began to decrease. Foraging flights ceased completely at about 20.30hr. No statistical differences were found in the number of foraging bees among the evaluated distances from the apiary.