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Commercial bumble bee (Bombus impatiens) hives under exclusion netting systems for apple pollination in orchards

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Cambridge University Press
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Exclusion netting systems are effective in various contexts and are increasingly used to control crop pests. However, factors affecting pollination management under nets are poorly known. The pollination effectiveness of commercial bumble bee hives of Bombus impatiens Cresson (Hymenoptera: Apidae) was studied for apple production under exclusion netting systems in a research orchard located in Quebec, Canada during 2016–2017. Sixteen single-row plots of apple trees (plot length: 18.5 m, cultivar GingerGold) were subjected to one of the following four treatments during bloom: (1) introduction of a bumble bee hive placed at the end of the row, under nets; (2) introduction of a bumble bee hive placed in the middle of the row, under nets; (3) negative control with no pollinators, under nets and (4) agronomic control with nearby bee hives (<50 m), without nets. Resulting post-harvest fruit quality (e.g., fruit weight, size, number and distribution of seeds) was evaluated, as well as correlations between bumble bee visitation rates and fruit quality parameters were evaluated. Results suggest that bumble bees provided adequate pollination under exclusion netting systems and that resulting fruit quality was equivalent to that of apple fruit conventionally pollinated by honey bees and wild bees community (bumble bees and other bees) in the orchard environment. Positioning bumble bee hives in the middle of the row provided better fruit load homogeneity in pollinated trees. Additional discussion on bumble bees as apple pollinators and on pollen distribution methods is also included.

Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems, 1-20 (2020)
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Exclusion netting system , Apple production , Pollination , Bourdon fébrile
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article de recherche