Pollination and fruit set in pumpkin (Cucurbita pepo) by honey bees

Polinização e estabelecimento de fruto em abóbora (Cucurbita pepo) por abelhas

Species of Cucurbitaceae are cultivated worldwide and are depend on bee pollination for fruit set. Field and lab experiments were conducted at Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, during 1996 and 1997 to determine "Howden" pumpkin (Cucurbita pepo L.) pollen removal and deposition by honeybees and factors relating to male flower attractiveness. Several parameters were evaluated in flowers at anthesis: (1) removal of pollen from anthers by honey bees, (2) pollen deposition on the stigma by honey bees, (3) amount of pollen on the body of honey bees, (4) fruit set after bee pollination, and (5) male flower nectary's pores and flower attractiveness. Honey bees carried between 1,050 to 3,990 pollen grains and 13,765 were removed from an anther after one visit. The amount of pollen deposited on the stigma by the honey bees varied according to the number of visits, from 53 grains with one visit, to 1,253 grains with 12 visits, and the mean number of grains in each visit varied from 53 to 230 grains. The percentage of established fruits was higher (100%) when the flowers received 12 visits of Apis mellifera, corresponding to a load 1,253 pollen grains. The attractiveness of the male flower for pollen and nectar collection was increased by the degree of opening of the access pore to the nectary in the flower.

Apis mellifera; bee attractiveness; nectary pore; pollen deposition

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