Pollination Efficiencies of Three Bee (Hymenoptera: Apoidea) Species Visiting Rabbiteye Blueberry

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Inadequate bee pollination limits rabbiteye blueberry, Vaccinium ashei Reade, production in the some areas of the southeastern United States. Honey bees, Apis mellifera L., are currently the only manageable pollinators available for pollinating V. ashei. However, a new adaptable pollinator for rabbiteye blueberry, Osmia ribifloris Cockerell, was successfully reared and flown in captivity. The bee nested successfully in wooden shelters and conferred superior fruit set to 2-yr-old potted, rabbiteye blueberry bushes. Pollination efficiency or the percentage of blueberry flowers to set fruit after being visited once by a female O. ribifloris was comparable to that of the female blueberry bee Habropoda laboriosa (F.) and worker honey bees. Interestingly, honey bees once thought to be inefficient pollinators of rabbiteye blueberry were found to be very efficient, especially for ‘Climax’ and ‘Premier’ flowers.

Keywords: Apis mellifera; Habropoda laboriosa; Osmia ribifloris; blueberry; fruit set; pollination

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1603/0022-0493-93.6.1726

Publication date: December 1, 2000

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