Does a honey bee (Apis mellifers) colony's foraging population on male-fertile sunflowers (Helianthus annuus) affect the amount of pollen on nestmates foraging on male-sterlies?
Gloria DeGrandi-Hoffman and Joseph H Martin
The relationship between a honey bee (Apis mellifera L.) colony's foraging population on male-fertile (MF) sunflowers (Helianthus annus L.) and the amount of sunflower pollen on the bodies of nestmates both in the hive (free-running-bees) and departing the hive (departing bees) was determined. There was not a signigicant relationship between the size of a colony's foraging population on MF sunflowers and the amount of sunflower pollen on the bodies of the free-running or departing bees. Departing and free-running bees had considerably less pollen on their bodies than foragers in male-sterile (MS) rows. Pollen-free worker honey bees forced to forage on MS capitula (forced foragers) in rows next to (MS-1) and six rows away from MF plants (MS-7) obtained amounts of sunflower pollen on their bodies comparable to that counted on foragers randomly sampled in those rows. The distribution of pollen on the bodies of forced and random foragers in both MS rows was similar. Honey bees (and perhaps other bees) that forage on MS plants apparently obtain much of the sunflower pollen on their bodies from previously-visited MS capitula. Therefore, most foragers do not need to visit MF capitula first or acquire sunflower pollen in the hive from nestmate contacts to pollinate MS sunflowers.