An evaluation of mini-nucleus honey bee hives for the pollination of honeydew melons in enclosures.
Tamar Keasar, Sayfuddin Shihadeh, Avi Shmida, Nadal Majali, Dan Weil and Noga Reuven
Recent declines in honey bee populations have created deficiencies in agricultural pollination, and motivated the search for alternatives to traditional honey bee colonies. Mini-nucleus colonies (mininucs), small honey bee hives containing a few hundred workers, are easier and cheaper to set up, maintain and transport than regular sized colonies. We tested whether mininucs can provide effective agricultural pollination in enclosures. We compared the efficiency of mininucs vs. regular Langstroth colonies in pollinating honeydew melons in tunnel net-houses. Flower visit frequencies were higher in net-houses with regular hives than in those with mininucs, but fruit weight and density were not affected by colony type. We suggest that mininucs can effectively pollinate melons in enclosed spaces, and that their ease of handling and non-aggressive behaviour further increases their appeal for agricultural pollination.