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"Directed honeybees": A preliminary investigation of an innovative solution for passionfruit pollination in Israel

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image of Israel Journal of Plant Sciences

Honeybees are the only pollinator of the Israeli passionfruit cultivar ‘Passion Dream’. The big flower opens in the morning with its three stigmas standing erect, far from the five stamens. Honeybees visit a flower at this stage, usually collect all the pollen, and perform poor pollination. At noon, when the stigmas have bent over and lie closer to the anthers, the bees ignore these flowers. Hand pollination doubles yield rates and produces larger fruits, but it is expensive. A passionfruit plot was covered by an insect-proof net-house and honeybee hives were placed in a nearby open field. Opening the net for honeybee visitation at noon directed the bees to visit the flowers at the optimal time for efficient pollination. Pollination by these "directed hoenybees" produced more than twice the fruit set of hand pollination, with a similar fruit size. Both net-house bumblebee pollination and open-field honeybee pollination yielded 2.5-fold less than hand pollination, and the latter yielded smaller fruits.

Affiliations: 1: Agricultural R&D Western Galilee, Agricultural Experiment Farm


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