Foraging Behavior of Honeybees in Apple Trees of the Cripps Pink and Red Chief Varieties
Keywords:Apis mellifera, pollination, pollen, nectar, Uruguay
The production of quality apples heavily depends on effective pollination. Honey bees are the main pollinator insect of apple trees. However, during the visits to the flowers, the bees can approach them from above by coming in contact with the anthers, or by the side posing themselves on the petals, being the first form the one that achieves a better pollination. The aim of this study was to analyze the behavior of the honey bees visiting the flowers of apple trees of the Cripps Pink and Red Chief varieties. In both plantations, it was observed that bees prefer to collect pollen in the morning and nectar in the afternoon. Bees collecting only nectar or collecting pollen and nectar approached flowers from above or from the side, and bees collecting only pollen accessed the flower mainly from above. Some bees during the foraging flight approached the flowers only from above or from the side (constant boardings), while others could change between both forms (not-constant boardings), and the bees that collected only pollen presented more constant flights. Thirty-seven percent of the total number of bees observed approached to the flowers from the side, contributing probably very little to pollination. Management of colonies that increase the number of bees collecting pollen (for example by adding combs with eggs and larvae or removing pollen reserves) would improve the pollination of apple trees.