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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: High Levels of Cotton Pollen Collection and Foraging Responses of Italian and Russian Honey Bees Given High and Low Levels of Pollen Foraging Stimuli


Submitted to: American Bee Journal
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: April 1, 2004
Publication Date: May 1, 2004
Citation: Danka, R.G. 2004. High levels of cotton pollen collection and foraging responses of italian and russian honey bees given high and low levels of pollen foraging stimuli [abstract]. American Bee Journal. 144(5):402

Technical Abstract: Honey bees, Apis mellifera, typically reject pollen of upland cotton as a resource. Stimulating bees for enhanced pollen collection may help overcome this rejection. Sixteen equal-sized colonies of each of two commercial stocks of bees (Italian and Russian) were placed adjacent to cotton fields at Rosedale, LA, and manipulated for stimulus effects in one of two ways (eight colonies of each type per stimulus group). High stimulus colonies received combs that contained brood and were alleviated of combs with stored pollen, while low stimulus colonies had the converse. Stimulus manipulations resulted in more general pollen collection, but not cotton pollen collection, in the high stimulus group on days 1 and 6 after treatment. Foraging responses of the treatment groups equalized by 11 days after treatment. Collection of cotton pollen was minimal (<2% of all foragers) during this period and was not affected by stimulus treatment. Italian colonies had greater total foraging activity and pollen collection effort on day 1 after treatment but the bee types foraged similarly on days 6 and 11. There were no interactions of the effects of stimulus treatment and bee type. After the treatment effects dissipated (by day 11, August 5, 2002), collection of cotton pollen increased substantially. Approximately one-fourth of all foragers and 80% of pollen collectors carried cotton pollen pellets during a 2-week period in mid August. The reason for this dramatic shift to gathering of cotton pollen is undetermined and warrants investigation because of the potential importance for cotton pollination by honey bees.

Last Modified: 4/22/2015
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