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J Econ Entomol. 2017 Dec 5;110(6):2290-2294. doi: 10.1093/jee/tox286.

Native Honey Bees Outperform Adventive Honey Bees in Increasing Pyrus bretschneideri (Rosales: Rosaceae) Pollination.

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Key Laboratory for Insect-Pollinator Biology of the Ministry of Agriculture, Institute of Apicultural Research, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, China.
Institute of Horticulture, Shanxi Academy of Agricultural Sciences, China.


The foraging behavior of different bee species is a key factor influencing the pollination efficiency of different crops. Most pear species exhibit full self-incompatibility and thus depend entirely on cross-pollination. However, as little is known about the pear visitation preferences of native Apis cerana (Fabricius; Hymenoptera: Apidae) and adventive Apis mellifera (L.; Hymenoptera: Apidae) in China. A comparative analysis was performed to explore the pear-foraging differences of these species under the natural conditions of pear growing areas. The results show significant variability in the pollen-gathering tendency of these honey bees. Compared to A. mellifera, A. cerana begins foraging at an earlier time of day and gathers a larger amount of pollen in the morning. Based on pollen collection data, A. mellifera shows variable preferences: vigorously foraging on pear on the first day of observation but collecting pollen from non-target floral resources on other experimental days. Conversely, A. cerana persists in pear pollen collection, without shifting preference to other competitive flowers. Therefore, A. cerana outperforms adventive A. mellifera with regard to pear pollen collection under natural conditions, which may lead to increased pear pollination. This study supports arguments in favor of further multiplication and maintenance of A. cerana for pear and other native crop pollination. Moreover, it is essential to develop alternative pollination management techniques to utilize A. mellifera for pear pollination.


Apis cerana; Apis mellifera; foraging preference; pear; pollination

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