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Honey Bee (Hymenoptera: Apidae) Distribution and Potential for Supplementary Pollination in Commercial Tomato Greenhouses During Winter

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This study examined the use of honey bees, Apis mellifera L., to supplement bumble bee, Bombus spp., pollination in commercial tomato, Lycopersicon esculentum Miller, greenhouses in Western Canada. Honey bee colonies were brought into greenhouses already containing bumble bees and left for 1 wk to acclimatize. The following week, counts of honey and bumble bees foraging and flying throughout the greenhouse were conducted three times per day, and tomato flowers open during honey bee pollination were marked for later fruit harvest. The same counts and flower-marking also were done before and after the presence of honey bees to determine the background level of bumble bee pollination. Overall, tomato size was not affected by the addition of honey bees, but in one greenhouse significantly larger tomatoes were produced with honey bees present compared with bumble bees alone. In that greenhouse, honey bee foraging was greater than in the other greenhouses. Honey bees generally foraged within 100 m of their colony in all greenhouses. Our study invites further research to examine the use of honey bees with reduced levels of bumble bees, or as sole pollinators of greenhouse tomatoes. We also make specific recommendations for how honey bees can best be managed in greenhouses.

Keywords: Apis mellifera; bumble bee; greenhouse; pollination; tomatoes

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2004

More about this publication?
  • 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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