Bombus impatiens (Hymenoptera: Apidae): An Alternative to Apis mellifera (Hymenoptera: Apidae) for Lowbush Blueberry Pollination

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The pollination effectiveness of the commercially reared bumble bee Bombus impatiens Cresson, was compared in field studies to the honey bee, Apis mellifera L., for lowbush blueberry, Vaccinium angustifolium Ait. A preliminary study indicated that B. impatiens had potential as an alternative pollinator. In a 3-yr study, percentage fruit set, percentage harvested berries, berry weight, and seeds per berry were compared in blueberry fields stocked at 7.5 A. mellifera hives per hectare to 5, 7.5, or 10 B. impatiens colonies per hectare. Percentage of harvested berries (yield) was significantly higher in fields stocked with B. impatiens at 10 colonies per hectare. No other parameters measuring pollinator effectiveness were significantly different at 5, 7.5, or 10 colonies per hectare. Flower handling time was significantly faster for B. impatiens and it more frequently collected blueberry pollen. All parameters of pollinator effectiveness were similar for B. impatiens, A. mellifera, and native wild bees in a follow-up study. Overall, B. impatiens was a suitable alternative to A. mellifera.

Keywords: Apis mellifera; Bombus impatiens; bumble bee; honey bee; lowbush blueberry; pollination

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: June 1, 2001

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  • Journal of Economic Entomology is published bimonthly in February, April, June, August, October, and December. The journal publishes articles on the economic significance of insects and is divided into the following sections: apiculture & social insects; arthropods in relation to plant disease; forum; insecticide resistance and resistance management; ecotoxicology; biological and microbial control; ecology and behavior; sampling and biostatistics; household and structural insects; medical entomology; molecular entomology; veterinary entomology; forest entomology; horticultural entomology; field and forage crops, and small grains; stored-product; commodity treatment and quarantine entomology; and plant resistance. In addition to research papers, Journal of Economic Entomology publishes Letters to the Editor, interpretive articles in a Forum section, Short Communications, Rapid Communications, and Book Reviews.
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