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Limited cross plant movement and non‐crop preferences reduce the efficiency of honey bees as pollinators of hybrid carrot seed crops
journal contributionposted on 11.02.2020, 00:00 by A Gaffney, B Bohman, SR Quarrell, Philip Brown, GR Allen
Pollination rates in hybrid carrot crops remain limited after introduction of honey bee hives. In this study, honey bee foraging behaviour was observed in commercial hybrid carrot seed crops. Significantly more visits were made to male-fertile (MF) rather than cytoplasmically male-sterile (CMS) flowers. Pollen was collected from bees returning to a hive, to determine daily variation in pollen loads collected and to what level the bees were foraging for carrot pollen. Honey bees visited a wide range of alternative pollen sources and made relatively few visits to carrot plants throughout the period of flowering. Visitation rates to other individual floral sources fluctuated but visitation to carrot was consistently low. The underlying rate of carrot pollen visits among collecting trips was modelled and estimated to be as low as 1.4%, a likely cause of the limited success implementing honey bee hives in carrot crops. © 2019 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.