The effect of avocado (Persea americana) nectar composition on its attractiveness to honey bees (Apis mellifera)

Ohad Afik, Arnon Dag, Sharoni Shafir*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations

Abstract

Honey bees are important avocado pollinators, but due to low attractiveness of avocado flowers pollination is often inadequate. Since honey is of nectar origin, we used it to test the effect of nectar composition on the preference of honey bees and we identified avocado honey due to its perseitol concentration. Bees preferred feeders containing non-avocado honey to avocado honey even when total sugar concentration in the avocado honey was higher. Crop loads were smaller for bees feeding on avocado than non-avocado honey. Finally, the learning performance of bees in a proboscis extension conditioning experiment was lower when they were rewarded with avocado honey than with non-avocado honey or sucrose solution. Moreover, only for avocado honey did the percentage of bees refusing to consume reward increase during the experiment. Our results indicate that honey bees prefer honey whose floral origin is of a competing flora over that of avocado. We conclude that avocado nectar composition may contribute to the low attractiveness of avocado flowers.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)317-325
Number of pages9
JournalApidologie
Volume37
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 2006

Keywords

  • Citrus
  • Crop load
  • Persea americana
  • Perseitol
  • Pollination
  • Proboscis extension conditioning
  • Repellency

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