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Floral biology and behavior of Africanized honeybees Apis mellifera in soybean (Glycine max L. Merril)

This research was carried out to evaluate the pollination by Africanized honeybees Apis mellifera, the floral biology and to observe the hoarding behavior in the soybean flowers (Glycine max Merril), var. BRS-133. The treatments were constituted of demarcated areas for free visitation of insects, covered areas by cages with a honeybee colony (A. mellifera) and also covered areas by cage without insects visitation. All areas had 24 m² (4m x 6m). The soybean flowers stayed open for a larger time (82.82 ± 3.48 hours) in covered area without honeybees. The stigma of the flowers was also more receptive (P=0.0021) in covered area without honeybees (87.3 ± 33.0%) and at 10:42 o'clock was the schedule of greater receptivity. The pollen stayed viable in all treatments, the average was 99.60 ± 0.02%, which did not present differences among treatments. The percentage of abortion of the flowers was 82.91% in covered area without honeybees, this result was superior (P=0.0002) to the 52.66% and 53.95% of the treatments uncovered and covered with honeybees, respectively. Honeybees were responsible for 87.7% of the pollination accomplished by the insects. The medium amounts of total sugar and glucose measured in the nectar of the flowers were, 14.33 ± 0.96 mg/flower and 3.61 ± 0.36 mg/ flower, respectively, not showing differences (P<0.05) among the treatments. The total solids, measured through the manual refratometer were 21.33 ± 0.22% in uncovered area and 22.33 ± 0.38% in covered with honeybees and differed to each other (P=0.0001). The honeybees were the most frequent insect (95.18%). Other observed insects were the Lepidoptera with 3.51% and other bees with 1.32%, in uncovered area. Honeybees visited 2.24 flowers on average in uncovered area and 1.58 in covered with honeybees and presented behavior for nectar hoarding and hoarding nectar/pollen in this period. In uncovered area the time of nectar hoarding was 2.55 ± 0.07 seconds, this time was smaller (P=0.0039) than 2.87 ± 0.08 seconds observed in covered area with honeybees. The behavior for the hoarding type observed in honeybees foraging the soybean flowers, through the content of its honey stomach and pollen loads of its pollen basket showed that the nectar forager did not show a pattern for the nectar collection, but for the pollen collection the schedule of pollen peak of the forager was at 11:36 o'clock. The soybean flowers showed alteration in floral biology when exposed to honeybees.

Africanized honeybee; Apis mellifera; soybean; Glycine max; pollination; floral biology; honeybee behavior

Instituto de Tecnologia do Paraná - Tecpar Rua Prof. Algacyr Munhoz Mader, 3775 - CIC, 81350-010 Curitiba PR Brazil, Tel.: +55 41 3316-3052/3054, Fax: +55 41 3346-2872 - Curitiba - PR - Brazil