Pollination of Greenhouse Tomatoes by the Mexican bumblebee Bombus ephippiatus (Hymenoptera: Apidae)

Carlos Hernan Vergara, Paula Fonseca-Buendía

Abstract


The Mexican native bumblebee Bombus ephippiatus Say was evaluated as a potential pollinator of greenhouse tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicon L.). The experiments were performed at San Andrés Cholula, Puebla, Mexico, from June to December 2004 in two 1 000 m2 greenhouses planted with tomatoes of the cultivar Mallory (Hazera ®). For the experiments, we used two colonies of Bombus ephippiatus, reared in the laboratory from queens captured in the field.  Four treatments were applied to 20 study plants: pollination by bumble bees, manual pollination, pollination by mechanical vibration and no pollination (bagged flowers, no vibration). We measured percentage of flowers visited by bumble bees, number of seeds per fruit, maturing time, sugar content, fruit weight and fruit shape. All available flowers were visited by bumblebees, as measured by the degree of anther cone bruising. The number of seeds per fruit was higher for bumble bee-pollinated plants as compared with plants pollinated mechanically or not pollinated and was not significantly different between hand-pollinated and bumble bee-pollinated plants. Maturation time was significantly longer and sugar content, fresh weight and seed count were significantly higher for bumblebee pollinated flowers than for flowers pollinated manually or with no supplemental pollination, but did not differ with flowers pollinated mechanically.

 


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ISSN 1920-7603

 

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