Hive-entrance pollen transfer devices to increase the cross-pollination potential of honey bees. II. Examination of three materials and pollen viability
Fani Hatjina; John B Free; Robert J Paxton
The cross-pollination potential of honey bees (Apis mellifera) may be improved by increasing the foreign pollen on bees' bodies through an enhancement of bee-to-bee pollen transfer in the hive. To do so, we fitted a simple device, which we call a hive-entrance pollen transfer device, at the hive entrance. The device was lined with three materials which were tested for their efficiency in increasing pollen grain numbers and pollen richness on the bodies of honey bees departing their colony in the summer of 1993. Of the three materials, woolen fabric and felt fabric increased significantly the total number of pollen grains on bees by an average of 84% and 131%, respectively. The effect of fine nylon bristles on pollen grain numbers, though positive (14% increase), was only marginally significant relative to control colonies. Felt fabric performed better than woollen fabric and fine nylon bristles in increasing significantly pollen richness on departing bees (by 64%, 25% and 28%, respectively). Germination of pollen sampled from the bodies of bees departing a colony with a hive-entrance pollen transfer device lined with fine bristles and a control colony was found to be similar, and not significantly different from pollen sampled from the bodies of pollen collectors entering the same colonies. Among bees' body areas, proboscidial fossae carried pollen with the highest germination rate. Corbicular pollen had almost twice as high a germination as that from proboscidial fossae. Pollen from woollen fabric, felt fabric and fine bristle materials lining a hive entrance pollen transfer device had an equally high germinability.