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Journal Article

The Foraging Behaviour of Honeybees (Apis mellifera L.) on Brussels Sprout (Brassica oleracea L.)

J. B. Free and Ingrid H. Williams
Journal of Applied Ecology
Vol. 10, No. 2 (Aug., 1973), pp. 489-499
DOI: 10.2307/2402297
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2402297
Page Count: 11
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
The Foraging Behaviour of Honeybees (Apis mellifera L.) on Brussels Sprout (Brassica oleracea L.)
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Abstract

(1) When foraging on Brussels sprout cultivars with small flowers, nectar-gathering bees preferred to visit the inner nectaries which they approached through the mouths of the flowers. More nectar-gatherers alighted on the outside of flowers of cultivars with deeper corolla tubes and larger floral parts, and inserted their tongues between the perianth segments to reach the outer nectaries, probably because they could not reach the inner nectaries. Bees soon learned to rob flowers and the ease with which they did so, increased as a flower became older and its perianth segments spread apart. Most foragers visiting some cultivars were robbers, particularly at the later stages of flowering. However, some cultivars with small flowers were not robbed even when their flowers were old. (2) Flowers were less likely to be pollinated by robber bees than by bees that entered them. Robbing can be discouraged by selecting Brussels sprout cultivars with inner nectaries easily reached by bees and also by increasing the proportion of pollen to nectargatherers visiting the crop. (3) In cages, bees did not discriminate between different cultivars, but in an open plot of ten cultivars, different bees preferred different cultivars and some showed considerable constancy to their preferred cultivar. Cultivar preferences may sometimes be associated with nectar availability. The implications of this to the production of hybrid seed are discussed.

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