Alfalfa Leafcutting Bee Population Dynamics, Flower Availability, and Pollination Rates in Two Oregon Alfalfa Fields

Authors: Bosch, Jordi; Kemp, William. P.

Source: Journal of Economic Entomology, Volume 98, Number 4, August 2005 , pp. 1077-1086(10)

Publisher: Entomological Society of America

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Abstract:

Since the 1970s, it has become increasingly difficult for U.S. alfalfa seed producers to maintain Megachile rotundata (F.) populations used for alfalfa, Medicago sativa L., pollination. In 1998, we monitored M. rotundata population dynamics and foraging behavior, as well as alfalfa bloom and pollination rates in two fields in eastern Oregon. Despite marked differences in bee management, establishment was very similar in the two fields (≈0.5 females per nesting cavity) and lagged peak bloom by ≈2 wk. Pollination rates increased from 0–10% in the first 3 wk to 80–90% in week 4–5. By then, M. rotundata females had difficulty finding untripped (nonpollinated) flowers and visited large numbers of already tripped or not fully matured flowers. M. rotundata progeny mortality was very high (54–78%). Estimated seed yields were similar in both fields. We contend similar seed yields, and improved bee production, could be accomplished with smaller bee populations, better timed with alfalfa bloom.

Keywords: Ascosphaera; Megachile rotundata; alfalfa pollination; foraging behavior; immature mortality

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2005

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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