Impacts of the Use of Nonnative Commercial Bumble Bees for Pollinator Supplementation in Raspberry

Authors: Lye, G. C.; Jennings, S. N.; Osborne, J. L.; Goulson, D.

Source: Journal of Economic Entomology, Volume 104, Number 1, February 2011 , pp. 107-114(8)

Publisher: Entomological Society of America

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Abstract:

Evidence for pollinator declines has led to concern that inadequate pollination services may limit crop yields. The global trade in commercial bumble bee (Bombus spp.) colonies provides pollination services for both glasshouse and open-field crops. For example, in the United Kingdom, commercial colonies of nonnative subspecies of the bumble bee Bombus terrestris L. imported from mainland Europe are widely used for the pollination of raspberries, Rubus idaeus L. The extent to which these commercial colonies supplement the services provided by wild pollinators has not been formally quantified and the impact of commercial bumble bees on native bees visiting the crop is unknown. Here, the impacts of allowing commercially available bumble bee colonies to forage on raspberry canes are assessed in terms of the yield of marketable fruit produced and the pollinator communities found foraging on raspberry flowers. No differences were found in the abundance, diversity, or composition of social bee species observed visiting raspberry flowers when commercial bumble bees were deployed compared with when they were absent. However, weight of marketable raspberries produced increased when commercial bees were present, indicating that wild pollinator services alone are inadequate for attaining maximum yields. The findings of the study suggests that proportional yield increases associated with deployment of commercial colonies may be small, but that nevertheless, investment in commercial colonies for raspberry pollination could produce very significant increases in net profit for the grower. Given potential environmental risks associated with the importation of nonnative bumble bees, the development of alternative solutions to the pollination deficit in raspberry crops in the United Kingdom may be beneficial.

Keywords: Bombus terrestris; Rubus idaeus; Scotland; agriculture; pollination limitation

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1603/EC10092

Publication date: February 1, 2011

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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