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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Pollinating Bees (Hymenoptera:apiformes) of U.S. Alfalfa Compared for Rates of Pod and Seed Set.

Author
item Cane, James

Submitted to: Journal of Economic Entomology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: August 1, 2001
Publication Date: February 1, 2002
Citation: CANE, J.H. POLLINATING BEES (HYMENOPTERA:APIFORMES) OF U.S. ALFALFA COMPARED FOR RATES OF POD AND SEED SET.. JOURNAL OF ECONOMIC ENTOMOLOGY. 2002. 95(1):22-27

Interpretive Summary: Seed for forage alfalfa results from pollination by managed bees that are capable of tripping the floral mechanism to transfer pollen. Although species have been compared for tripping rates, they have not been compared for resultant pod production and seed set. Three managed bee species and two candidates were compared for these three attributes in a greenhouse study. The species (and sexes) differed widely in how frequently they tri flowers, but once the flower was tripped, bee species were equivalent in pod set and seed set.

Technical Abstract: Five U.S. managed and candidate pollinators for seed alfalfa were compared for the frequencies with which the trip virgin alfalfa flowers, as well as the proportions of these tripped flowers that later set pods and the average count of seeds produced per pod. The latter two measures have never been used to compare alfalfa pollinators, although they should differ rwith the quantity and quality of pollen deposited during tripping. Female alkali bees and alfalfa leaf-cutting bees were the best alfalfa pollinators; honey bees and candidate Osmia aglaea were the least effective, but the differences are entirely attributable to tripping frequencies. Males of the first two species tripped more than half of the flowers that they visited, and should therefore be considered when assessing each species' pollination value for alfalfa.

Last Modified: 8/1/2014
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