Bumblebees pollinate Andean blueberry
Generally bee males are considered to have only a reproductive duty. A UNal research project discovered that they also play an important role in pollination.Bogotá D. C., 11 de septiembre de 2015 — Agencia de Noticias UN-
The field work was developed in the municipalities of Chiquinquirá, Ráquira, Gachetá and San Miguel de Sema.
During the first part of the year, flowers are pollinated by queens and workers and during the second blossoming of the year by males.
Fermín José Chamorro García of the UNal Department of Biology Bee Research Laboratory and author of a master’s thesis project entitled, “Importance of castes of Bombus hortulanus in pollination of wild Vaccinium meridionale fruit”, analyzed the different castes of bees with respect to male or female pollination of Andean blueberries.
In his research project he discovered that both males and females are efficient in this duty. Male bees are in constant search for energy sources (nectar) which enable them to maintain themselves while they mate with females. For this reason they are always in contact with flowers and disperse pollen among different plants.
The plant chosen for the project was the Andean blueberry, which fruit is increasingly gaining consumption volume in Colombia, representing an economic potential. For this reason the research project focused on the importance of bumblebee pollination.
Another of the results of the project showed that during the first part of the year, flowers are pollinated by queens and workers and during the second blossoming of the year by males.
This occurs depending on the colony cycle; during the first part of the year there is a nest establishment period created by queens while workers venture outward looking for food; at the end of the nest cycles, it is the males turn to find food.
According to the researcher there is a synergetic relationship between Andean blueberry blossoming where bees contribute to pollination and of the blueberry to help sustain the nests.
This thesis project was performed by analyzing unique bee visits. In other words, virgin flowers which are visited by only one bumblebee and flowers later wrapped to analyze how much pollen is deposited and if with only one visit fruit forms or not.
Flowers were isolated in tulle bags since they were in button stage. In this manner they remain until they open and are receptive, covering them once again after receiving the visit.
Another part of the project was counting bees which visit flowers during the day and the amount of bees that landed on only one flower.
Field work was carried out during two years in locations near the municipalities of Chiquinquirá, Ráquira, Gachetá and San Miguel de Sema, in Andean blueberry production areas.
For flower counting they used 50 plant clusters for each location and in eight different locations; each cluster had approximately 12 flowers.
The results of this research project were showcased during the Tenth Colloquium of the South American North Section of the International Union for the Study of Social Insects. The event was organized by the Universidad Nacional de Colombia and the Universidad Javeriana.(Por: Fin/VMH/DMH