Evaluation of native bees as pollinators of cucurbit crops under floating row covers

Logan M. Minter, Ricardo T. Bessin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations

Abstract

Production of cucurbit crops presents growers with numerous challenges. Several severe pests and diseases can be managed through the use of rotation, trap cropping, mechanical barriers, such as row covers, and chemical applications. However, considerations must also be made for pollinating insects, as adequate pollination affects the quantity and quality of fruit. Insecticides may negatively affect pollinators; a concern enhanced in recent years due to losses in managed Apis melifera L. colonies. Row covers can be used in place of chemical control before pollination, but when removed, pests have access to fields along with the pollinators. If pollination services of native bees could be harnessed for use under continuous row covers, both concerns could be balanced for growers. The potential of two bee species which specialize on cucurbit flowers, Peponapis pruinosa Say and Xenoglossa strenua Cresson, were assessed under continuous row covers, employed over acorn squash. Experimental treatments included plots with either naturally or artificially introduced bees under row covers and control plots with row covers either permanently removed at crop flowering, or employed continuously with no added pollinating insects. Pests in plots with permanently removed row covers were managed using standard practices used in certified organic production. Marketable yields from plots inoculated with bees were indistinguishable from those produced under standard practices, indicating this system would provide adequate yields to growers without time and monetary inputs of insecticide applications. Additionally, application of this technique was investigated for muskmelon production and discussed along with considerations for farm management.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1354-1363
Number of pages10
JournalEnvironmental Entomology
Volume43
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - 2014

Keywords

  • Cucurbitaceae
  • Peponapis pruinosa
  • Pollination
  • Sustainable agriculture
  • Xenoglossa strenua

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Insect Science

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