Recent declines in honey bee populations have created deficiencies in agricultural pollination, and motivated the search for alternatives to traditional honey bee colonies. Mini-nucleus colonies (mininucs), small honey bee hives containing a few hundred workers, are easier and cheaper to set up, maintain and transport than regular sized colonies. We tested whether mininucs can provide effective agricultural pollination in enclosures. We compared the efficiency of mininucs vs. regular Langstroth colonies in pollinating honeydew melons in tunnel net-houses. Flower visit frequencies were higher in net-houses with regular hives than in those with mininucs, but fruit weight and density were not affected by colony type. We suggest that mininucs can effectively pollinate melons in enclosed spaces, and that their ease of handling and non-aggressive behaviour further increases their appeal for agricultural pollination.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was supported under Grant No. C21-046 funded by the U.S.‑ Israel Cooperative Development Research Program, Bureau for Economic Growth, Agriculture, and Trade, U.S. Agency for International Development. Data analysis and writing were supported by the Institute for Advanced Studies, the Hebrew University. Michal Segoli and two anonymous reviewers commented on a previous version of the manuscript.
- Apis mellifera
- Honeydew melon
- Mini-nucleus colony
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Insect Science