Honey bee (Apis mellifera) strains differ in apple (Malus domestica) pollen foraging preference
Arnon Dag, Raphael A Stern and Sharoni Shafir
A large proportion of the honey bees from colonies placed in apple orchards collect pollen from competing flora. For four years we tested for a genetic component that would account for preferences for pollen from apple bloom. In the first two years we tested various genetic strains of bees and found significant differences among them in the proportion of apple pollen that they collected. In the final year we found that colonies that were progenies of colonies with high preference for apple pollen in the previous year (‘High strain’) tended to collect a higher proportion of apple pollen compared to colonies from a ‘Low strain.’ The genetic component for apple pollen preference that is evident from this study attests to the possibility of breeding a honey bee strain with high apple pollination effectiveness even under competition conditions.