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The effect of the fruit set on the mean mass of sour cherry fruits
Published March 21, 2001

Experiments were conducted with four sour cherry cultivars three of that were self-fertile and one was self-sterile. Different levels of fruit set were obtained by limiting, the bee pollination period. The limitation of the duration of the effective bee pollination period definitely affected the fruit set of all the four cvs. The mass of indivi...dual fruits seemed to be related to the final set but this relationship has not find to be definitely expressed statistically at that moderate level of maximum fruit sets (10-14 per cent at the maximum) we obtained in the experiments. For this reason, further research is needed to explore that level of fruit set that can notably reduce the fruit size (mass) to an undesirable extent.


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The effect of spring frosts on the nectar production and the bee visitation of fruit trees
Published February 23, 2000

Fruit tree species suffered very strong spring frosts in 1997 in Hungary. This caused partial or total damages at buds and flowers depending on site and time of blooming. It was demonstrated at a number of experiments that frost and cold weather also strongly affected the nectar production of surviving flowers. No or very little amount of necta...r was measured in flowers first of all of early blooming fruit tree species (apricot) but also of pear and apple in some places. In spite of this fact intensive honeybee visitation was detected in the flowers of fruit trees that suffered partial frost damage only at those sites where honeybee colonies were placed in or at the experimental plantations and the lack of sufficient amount of nectar did not affected bee behaviour seriously on fruit flowers. This means that bad nectar production failed to affect bee visitation of fruit trees definitely. The reason for this was the fact that not only fruit trees but another early bee plants (wild plants, too) suffered frost damage. Accordingly, in lack of forage bees intensively searched for food at blooming fruit trees with some living flowers. Consequently, there was an acceptable yield at those plantations where bud and flower damage was not complete. Accordingly, intensive bee visitation (that is moving additional bee colonies to overpopulate fruit orchards with honeybees) can be an effective tool to decrease or eliminate the detrimental effect of spring frost on the yield of fruit trees where bud or fruit damage is not too high.


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The effect of nectar production to the gathering behaviour of honeybees and to the foraging activity of wild bees at apple flowers
Published April 19, 2006

Intensity of bee visitation (honeybees and wild bees), foraging behaviour of honeybees and nectar parameters (nectar production, sugar concentration, sugar content in nectars) were inspected at 18 apple cultivars for three consecutive years. Honeybee visitation was calculated to be some 3.07 bee visits at a single apple flower a day but wild be...e activity was very low, only some 0.11 wild bee visits per flower per day.

The nectar production (nectar content) of apple flowers was fairly different according to the cultivars and the nectar production (nectar content) of flowers was negatively correlated with the sugar concentration in nectar. Interestingly, at the majority of the inspected 18 cultivars the nectar production has shown minor or no changes in the morning and at the afternoon. The nectar production (nectar content) of flowers clearly encouraged the total bee activity at the inspected cultivars (r = 0.54). Bees visited abundant nectars with greater sugar concentration most intensely than lees abundant nectars with smaller sugar concentration.

Nectar parameters, however, affected the activity of honeybees with different types of gathering behaviour in different way. More intense activity by pollen gatherer and mixed behaviour honeybees was observed at cultivars producing abundant nectar (pollen gatherers: r = 0.65, mixed behaviour: r = 0.79). The activity of pollen gatherer honeybees and of mixed behaviour bees, on the other hand, was negatively correlated to the sugar concentration in nectar (pollen gatherers: r = -0.51, mixed behaviour: r = -0.73). This can be explained by the fact that their behaviour was much more affected by the amount of pollen than by any nectar parameters. Accordingly, "mixed behaviour honeybees" should probably rather be called as "pollen gatherers with nectar load" instead of "nectar gatherers with pollen load", as widely used in literature. The activity of ineffective side worker nectar gatherers was greatly encouraged by the sugar concentration in nectar (p = 0.63), similarly to the pure (top) nectar gatherer honeybees (r = 0.72). There was a negative relationship between the nectar production (nectar content) of flowers and the activity of these behaviour classes (nectar gatherers: r = -0.47, side workers: r = -0.36).

Concluding the findings we can state that the activity of pollen gatherers and mixed behaviour honeybees is strongly encouraged by greater nectar production (greater nectar content) of apple flowers. Their activity, however, is mostly dependent firstly on the amount of pollen. This is the reason why the sugar concentration is in a negative relationship to the activity of pure pollen gatherers and mixed behaviour bee. On the other hand, pure nectar gatherers and side worker nectar gatherers are greatly encouraged by the sugar concentration of apple nectar the amount of nectar was not a definite influence on their activity.

Side worker honeybees occurred at each cultivar inspected, however, their ratio varied widely among cultivars. So we can draw the conclusion that, in contradiction with earlier believes, side worker nectar gathering is a general phenomenon at apple flowers. The activity of side workers depends first of all on the relative position of stamens and petals; however, low sugar concentration of nectars can probably moderate their activity but probably do not affect pollen gatherers and mixed behaviour bees.

Wild bee visitation was very low; the wild bee species observed (Osmia cornuta, Andrena flavipes, Anthophora acervorum, Bombus terrestris, Bombus lapidarius and Halictus simplex) comprised some 3.44 per cent of the total bee visitation at apple flowers only. Wild bee visitation was in a positive correlation with the nectar production (nectar amount) of flowers (r = 0,4) and with the sugar content of nectar (r = 0.46) but it was negatively correlated with the sugar concentration in nectar (r = -0,27).

Our result calls the attention to the importance of nectar parameters in the effective honeybee pollination of apple plantations. Most effective pollinating activity of honeybees can be expected in plantations with cultivars of high nectar production because this feature seem so encourage the activity of those behaviour classes (pure pollen gatherers and mixed behaviour bees) that are the most effective pollinating agents among honeybees.

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