The role of stingless bees in crop pollination.

CSIRO Entomology, PMB 3 Indooroopilly 4068, Australia.
Annual Review of Entomology (Impact Factor: 13.02). 02/1999; 44:183-206. DOI: 10.1146/annurev.ento.44.1.183
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Stingless bees (Apidae: Meliponini) are common visitors to flowering plants in the tropics, but evidence for their importance and effectiveness as crop pollinators is lacking for most plant species. They are known to visit the flowers of approximately 90 crop species. They were confirmed to be effective and important pollinators of 9 species. They may make a contribution to the pollination of approximately 60 other species, but there is insufficient information to determine their overall effectiveness or importance. They have been recorded from another 20 crops, but other evidence suggests that they do not have an important role because these plants are pollinated by other means. The strengths and limitations of stingless bees as crop pollinators are discussed. Aspects of their biology that impact on their potential for crop pollination are reviewed, including generalized flower visiting behavior of colonies, floral constancy of individual bees, flight range, and the importance of natural vegetation for maintaining local populations.

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    ABSTRACT: Introduction. Many cultivated plants do well with exotic pollinators, and native pollinators can also serve exotic crops. Both can be optimized for agriculture. We studied Nephelium lappaceum L. (Sapindaceae), an andro-dioecious Asian plant, in tropical Mexico. The hermaphrodite flowers were not known to shed viable pollen, and outcrossing from male pollinating plants was thought essential for efficient horticulture. Materials and methods. We used the locally developed CERI61 variety of rambutan and conducted experiments on pollination and fruit yield. An orchard of 1,000 trees was studied intensively during two flowering seasons in Chiapas, Mexico. Plantation yields were recorded for 10 years. We compared open pollination experiments with pollinator exclusion and 'induced pollination' treatments. We caged some trees with colonies of stingless bees: Scaptotrigona and Tetragonisca. Results and discus-sion. Caged flowers produced fruit, with no male plant present. Pollen dehisced and was viable on approximately 5% of flowers. Trees caged with pollinators, and open pollination treatments revealed 9.1 times more mature fruit than trees without pollinators. Fruit mass was significantly higher in induced pollination treatments. Yields exceeding 7 t ha −1 were obtained during a ten-year test period. Scaptotrigona mexicana (Apidae, Meliponini) was the main pollinator, fol-lowed by social halictid bees (Halictus hesperus). Feral Africanized honeybees were not strongly attracted to flowers. Conclusion. Both stingless bee species in open pollination treatments and within cages showed that fruit production increased nearly 10-fold in this variety of rambutan. Although outcrossing versus selfing did not affect initial mature fruit set, a superior fruit yield, in weight and size, was obtained from selfing mediated by pollinators in caged trees. Keywords: Mexico / Chiapas / rambutan (Nephelium lappaceum) / pollinators / Apidae / bees / selfing Résumé – Amélioration des rendements et pollinisation par des abeilles du rambutan hermaphrodite (Nephelium lappaceum L.) dans le Chiapas, Mexique. Introduction. Beaucoup de plantes cultivées s'accommodent de pollinisateurs importés mais les pollinisateurs naturels contribuent également à la récolte de fruits exotiques. Les deux types peuvent être optimisés pour l'agriculture. Nous avons étudié le rambutan, Nephelium lappaceum L. (Sapindaceae), une espèce fruitière asiatique andro-dioïque, dans les conditions tropicales du Mexique. Les fleurs her-maphrodites ne sont pas connues pour libérer du pollen viable, aussi la participation des plantes mâles fécondantes est essentielle en horticulture productive. Matériel et méthodes. Nous avons testé la variété CERI61 développée locale-ment en expérimentation agronomique portant sur le rendement en fruits et sur la pollinisation. Un verger de 1000 arbres a été étudié intensivement pendant deux saisons florifères dans le Chiapas. Les rendements fruitiers du verger ont été enregistrés sur 10 années. Nous avons comparé les traitements entre une pollinisation ouverte avec exclusion de tout pollinisateur et une « pollinisation forcée ». Quelques arbres ont été maintenus en cage, avec des colonies d'abeilles sans dard : Scaptotrigona et Tetragonisca. Résultats et discussion. Des fleurs en cage ont produit des fruits en l'ab-sence de toute plante mâle. Le pollen produit était déhiscent et viable sur près de 5 % des fleurs. Les traitements en cage avec des pollinisateurs, et en pollinisation ouverte ont révélé 9.1 fois plus de fruits arrivant à maturité qu'en l'ab-sence de pollinisateurs. La masse de fruits récoltés était significativement plus élevée suite aux traitements d'induction de pollinisation que dans tout autre traitement. Des rendements excédant 7 t ha −1 ont été obtenus sur une période-test de dix ans. Scaptotrigona mexicana (Apidae, Meliponini) était le pollinisateur principal recensé, suivi par des abeilles halictid sociales (Halictus hesperus), alors que les abeilles africanisées sauvages n'ont pas été fortement attirées par Corresponding author: 24 Manuel Rincón-Rabanales et al.: Fruits 70 (2015) 23–27 les fleurs de rambutan. Conclusion. L'espèce d'abeille sans dard utilisée tant dans des traitements de pollinisation ouverte que sous cage a contribué à une augmentation proche de 10 fois la récolte de fruits de cette variété de rambutan. Bien que la fécondation croisée n'ait pas affecté la mise à fruit initiale par rapport à l'autofécondation, un rendement supérieur a été obtenu, en poids et en taille de fruits, grâce aux pollinisateurs sur fleurs en cage. Mots clés : Mexique / Chiapas / rambutan (Nephelium lappaceum) / animal pollinisateur / abeilles / autopollinisation
    01/2014; 70:23-27.
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    ABSTRACT: The growth of protected cultivation in the world agriculture has driven crops traditionally cultivated in open field to enclosures, which, in turn, prevent the access of pollinators to flowers. Therefore, it became necessary to identify suitable pollinators for confined environments. Stingless bees have been pointed out in Brazil as the ideal pollinators for crop pollination under these conditions. Aiming to evaluate the viability of using two stingless bee species in a protected environment conditions, colonies of Melipona subnitida (D.) and Scaptotrigona sp. nov. were introduced in a greenhouse during the flowering of seeded (diploid) and seedless (triploid) mini watermelon (Citrullus lanatus T.) varieties. The feasibility of using these bee species was evaluated based on the adaptive and foraging behavior under the protected environment conditions. Melipona subnitida did not show any interest to the crop under the experimental conditions, stopped foraging trips and egg laying in a diapause-like stage. On the other hand, Scaptotrigona sp. nov. foragers were active and collected floral resources since the second day after their introduction. Moreover, the foragers of Scaptotrigona sp. nov. showed an essential behavior for mini watermelon pollination, because they visited staminates and pistillates flowers from both seeded and seedless genotypes for nectar collection. We concluded that M. subnitida did not adapt to the greenhouse mini watermelon cultivation under the experimental conditions and should not be used for pollination purposes in such a situation. Contrasting, Scaptotrigona sp. nov. adapted well to the greenhouse and should be preferred for greenhouse mini watermelon pollination.
    Sociobiology 12/2014; 61(4):502-509. · 0.36 Impact Factor
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    01/2013: pages 87–97; Springer.


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