Honey bee (Apis mellifera) strains differ in avocado (Persea americana) nectar foraging preference

Arnon Dag, A. Elizabeth Fetscher, Ohad Afik, Yelena Yeselson, Arthur Schaffer, Yossi Kamer, Nicholas M. Waser, Monica A. Madore, Mary Lu Arpaia, Reuben Hofshi, Sharoni Shafir*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations

Abstract

Avocado nectar is unusual because it contains perseitol, a 7-carbon sugar alcohol. We compared avocado-nectar collection by commonly used Italian-based (IT) honey bee colonies and New World Carniolan (NWC) colonies introduced in avocado orchards in Israel (IS) and California (CA). In IS, NWC colonies had greater honey yields (1.2-4.3 fold), with a higher perseitol content (1.1-5.4 fold), than IT colonies. Overall, we calculated that NWC bees collected 1.4 to 18.1 times more avocado nectar than IT bees in the IS orchards. In CA, analyses of the crop contents of foragers revealed non-significant strainspecific trends in visitation to avocado flowers that were consistent with those indicated by data from IS. The genetic basis for honey bee differences in visitation to avocado flowers was further supported by the consistently high honey perseitol content of selected colonies over two years. The implications of possible strain-specific difference in avocado-nectar preference are discussed in relation to the use of honey bees for avocado pollination.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)299-309
Number of pages11
JournalApidologie
Volume34
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 May 2003

Keywords

  • Apis mellifera
  • Persea americana
  • Perseitol
  • Pollination
  • Preference

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