Submitted to: Iowa Academy of Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/8/1997
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: For several years, at the North Central Regional Plant Introduction Station (NCRPIS), honey bees have been used to control pollinate plant germplasm in field cages. We have shown that there are other bee species that do as well as, or better than, honey bees for pollinating some of the plant species held at the NCRPIS. One such bee is a solitary bee called a hornfaced bee. This bee was imported from Japan in the late '70s and is an excellent early season pollinator of many plant species. In this study, we placed domiciles (homes) of the bees in the backyards of several of our staff to determine if we could effectively increase the number of bees in a urban setting. We were able to get a good increase of bee numbers using this approach. We then used a low voltage x-ray machine to examine the straws in which the bees nest. This enables us to monitor the number of bees present so we can determine the best plant species for rearing the bees. The impact is that we have an efficient method to increase the number of hornfaced bees for use the following growing season. This will eliminate our need to purchase the bees, thus, reducing our costs. Using these bees will also save the NCRPIS money because we can reduce the use of honey bees, which are more expensive to manage.
Technical Abstract: Controlled pollination in field cages is used at the USDA-ARS North Central Regional Plant Introduction Station (NCRPIS) for seed increase of several plant species. Honey bees, Apis melifera, have been used almost exclusively for several years. Recently we began investigation other pollinating insects for controlled pollination. Osmia cornifroms, a solitary bee imported from Japan, has been shown to be an excellent early-season pollinator. We placed domiciles of these bees in backyards of the NCRPIS staff to provide adequate increases of bees for use in field cages the following growing season. We describe an X-ray technique that aids in counting the number of bees present in rearing straws. We also have noted some of the different plants which the bees visited for food.