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ISHS Acta Horticulturae 288: VI International Symposium on Pollination

EFFECTIVENESS OF THE ALFALFA LEAFCUTTER BEE AS A POLLINATOR OF LEGUME FORAGE CROPS

Author:   K.W. Richards
Abstract:
The potential of the alfalfa leafcutter bee, Megachile rotundata (F.), to pollinate legume forage crops, other than alfalfa, was investigated. Thirty plant species were evaluated using 3 treatments (caged with leafcutter bees, open pollinated, and pollinator excluded). Most perennial and biennial legumes currently grown in Canada require cross-pollination and had favourable seed sets and yields when exposed to leafcutter bees. Most annual legumes did not benefit from leafcutter bees. This study has provided an option to seed growers in their choice of pollinator for these crops. After the mass-screening of crops was completed a detailed study of some of the more-promising crops was initiated to compare pollinator species. A theoretical approach was used to predict the bee population required to pollinate varying flower densities. Estimates of leafcutter bee productivity on crops is also required to meet bee management objectives.
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