An evaluation of Fruit-BoostTM as an aid for honey bee pollination under conditions of competing bloom.
Amanda Ellis and Keith S. Delaplane
An experimental situation was created in which watermelon and sunflower were blooming simultaneously and competing for pollinators. Measures of watermelon flowering and bee visitation were made for three consecutive weeks of bloom and followed by measures of fruit at harvest. The honey bee attractant Fruit BoostTM was tested for its efficacy in focusing honey bees onto the target crop (watermelon) and improving pollination. Fruit Boost did not significantly affect total number of honey bees visiting watermelon flowers, the proportion of honey bee visits that occurred on female flowers, fruit-set, or fruit weight. The onset of sunflower bloom on week 2 was associated with a sequential drop in honey bee numbers on watermelon between weeks 1-3, a near absence of fruit set after week 1, and significant decrease in melon size between weeks 1 and 3. More broadly, this study suggests that pollination is compromised in agro-ecosystems where crops or feral plants are competing for limited pollinators.