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ISHS Acta Horticulturae 446: VI International Symposium on Vaccinium Culture

POTENTIAL FOR MANAGEMENT OF THE BLUEBERRY BEE, OSMIA ATRIVENTRIS CRESSON

Authors:   F. A. Drummond, C. S. Stubbs
Keywords:   solitary bees, pollination, Vaccinium angustifolium emergence, model
Abstract:
Field and laboratory studies were conducted on selected aspects of the biology of the blueberry bee, Osmia atriventris Cresson, relevant to development of management strategies for commercial pollination. We found that the blueberry bee is well adapted to its blueberry host plant. The seasonal nest construction activity of adult blueberry bees was found to be well synchronized with the bloom period of lowbush blueberry, Vaccinium angustifolium, over a three year period in Winterport, Me USA. Floral constancy by O. atriventris to lowbush blueberry was reflected by lowbush bluebery pollen comprising the greatest percentage of pollen gathered in a field where 53 species of flowering plants occured. A temperature dependent predictive model for adult emergence was developed. Male and female emergence rates were not significantly different. Field validation of this model demonstrated that emergence of adults in the field can be predicted. Longevity of adult female bees was found to be longest at 15.7°C (15.8 days) and shortest at 25°C (4.3 days). Large scale field releases of O. atriventris did not result in population increase in 1994 and 1995. This appears to be due in part to adult bees not utilizing wood nesting blocks when released in large aggregations. Mortality rates were found to be quite variable from year to year (ranging from 27 to 48%). Parasitism caused by, Sapyga sp., ranged from 4.8 to 13.7%. Parasitism may be positively correlated with O. atriventris population density (r=+0.76). These results suggest that the blueberry bee's potential as a commercially managed pollinator of lowbush blueberry is predicated upon the development of a nesting system which encourages females to nest in high aggregations within artificial nesting structures.
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