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ISHS Acta Horticulturae 561: VIII International Symposium on Pollination - Pollination: Integrator of Crops and Native Plant Systems

CALCULATED VALUE OF NESTS OF THE LONG-TONGUED BUMBLEBEE BOMBUS HORTORUM, FOR POLLINATION OF TETRAPLOID RED CLOVER, TRIFOLIUM PRATENSE

Author:   B.J. Donovan
Keywords:   Bombus hortorum, pollination, tetraploid red clover, seed value NZ$999
DOI:   10.17660/ActaHortic.2001.561.44
Abstract:
Trap-nested colonies of the long-tongued bumble bee Bombus hortorum were moved to flowering crops of tetraploid red clover Trifolium pratense during early bloom. At the cessation of bloom all cocoons in the bumble bee nests were counted for totals of workers/males and new queens that were produced.
The ideal size at which a colony should be moved to red clover is thought to be about 6-8 cm across, with a fecund queen and 25-35 workers. Bloom will last for 10 weeks or more, during which time a colony will grow to about 20 cm across. At the end of colony activity, for14 colonies a mean 628 workers/males and 125 new queens had emerged from cells. As many data as possible were used, and in the absence of data various assumptions were made for such factors as mean length of life for foraging bees, and the percentage that foraged on the target red clover. With a return to the red clover grower of NZ$10/kg for seed, modelling suggests that each colony potentially pollinated sufficient flowers to produce seed worth NZ$999.02.

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