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FORAGING BEHAVIOUR OF HONEY BEES (APIS MELLIFERA L.) ON STAGHORN SUMAC [RHUS HIRTA SUDWORTH (EX-TYPHINA L.)]: DIFFERENCES AND DIOECY

  • Carlos F. Greco (a1), Dean Holland (a1) and Peter G. Kevan (a1)

Abstract

The foraging behaviour of honey bees (Apis mellifera L.) on inflorescences of staghorn sumac [Rhus hirta Sudworth (ex-typhina L.)] was studied using a “choice table” placed in natural stands of this plant. The choice table consisted of a wooden grid with alternated male and female inflorescences of sumac. Honey bee activity was recorded also on inflorescences of naturally growing plants in which the secretion of nectar was measured and the anther dehiscence recorded. Honey bees were the only common pollinators observed on sumac in the study area. During the morning, both plant sexes secreted little nectar, and pollen was available after the dehiscence of the anthers which took place between 1000 and 1100 hours. Female inflorescences secreted great amounts of nectar during the afternoon, but in male inflorescences there was little secretion. Honey bees seemed to forage according to the circadian availability of resources. Most of their activity concentrated on male inflorescences in the morning and on female ones during the afternoon. Both the occurrence of bees with pollen loads in their corbiculae and the length of the visits to each sex also seemed to be in accordance to the kind of resource exploited at particular times of the day. Most of the bees with pollen loads were observed during the morning and the longest visits to any inflorescences were registered on female ones during the afternoon (by bees foraging for nectar). Despite our results suggesting that the pollination success of staghorn sumac would be impaired by the foraging pattern of honey bees, an explanation is proposed for its reproductive success.

Le comportement de recherche de nourriture de l’Abeille domestique (Apis mellifera L.) sur les inflorescences du Vinaigrier [Rhus hirta Sudworth (ex-typhina L.)] a été étudié au moyen d’une “table de choix” installée dans des boisés naturels de cette plante. La table était une grille de bois où alternaient les inflorescences mâles et femelles de la plante. L’activité des abeilles a également été enregistrée sur des inflorescences de vinaigriers témoins dont la sécrétion de nectar a été mesurée et la déhiscence des anthères a été notée. Les abeilles étaient les seuls pollinisateurs communs du Vinaigrier dans la zone d’étude. Au cours de la matinée, les inflorescences mâles et femelles de la plante sécrètent peu de nectar et le pollen est disponible après la déhiscence des anthères qui se produit entre 1000 et 1100 heures. Les inflorescences femelles sécrètent de grandes quantités de nectar au cours de l’après-midi, mais les inflorescences mâles sécrètent peu. Les abeilles semblent se nourrir en fonction du cycle circadien de disponibilité des ressources. L’activité de recherche de nourriture est concentrée sur les inflorescences mâles le matin, et sur les inflorescences femelles durant l’après-midi. La présence des abeilles à corbicules remplis de pollen et la durée de leurs visites aux inflorescences de chaque sexe semblent correspondre au type de ressource exploité à des moments particuliers de la journée. La plupart des abeilles à corbicules remplis de pollen ont été observées au cours de la matinée et les visites les plus longues aux inflorescences ont été enrigistrées sur des inflorescences femelles au cours de l’après-midi (par des abeilles à la recherche de nectar). Malgré nos résultats qui indiquent que le succès de la pollinisation du Vinaigrier est limité par l’activité alimentaire des abeilles, nous proposons une explication au succès de la reproduction chez le Vinaigrier.

[Traduit par la Rédaction]

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References

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FORAGING BEHAVIOUR OF HONEY BEES (APIS MELLIFERA L.) ON STAGHORN SUMAC [RHUS HIRTA SUDWORTH (EX-TYPHINA L.)]: DIFFERENCES AND DIOECY

  • Carlos F. Greco (a1), Dean Holland (a1) and Peter G. Kevan (a1)

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