The effect of Polynate™ on the foraging behavior of honey bees (Apis mellifera) and other important pollinators in apple, blueberry and cherry

Monday, November 11, 2013
Exhibit Hall 4 (Austin Convention Center)
Julie Adams , Entomology, Michigan State University, Okemos, MI
Larry Gut , Department of Entomology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI
Rufus Isaacs , Department of Entomology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI
Fred Dyer , Department of Entomology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI
Using honey bee attractants to boost crop yield is not a novel idea.  In light of the recent honey bee decline, the time is right to continue investigating what can be done to increase honey bee pollination in crops.  In the past here have been many attempts to increase pollinator effectiveness, but most of them have been unsuccessful.  Polynate™ is currently one of the most promising products manufactured for this purpose because it emits chemicals similar to the components found in Nasonov pheromone; a natural recruitment pheromone in honey bees.  Since Polynate™ mimics this recruitment pheromone, it is believed that it will be a more effective attractant than other pheromones (such as Queen Mandibular Pheromone) that have been previously studied.  In this experiment, three objectives are explored: to 1) determine the potential of Polynate™ to increase fruit set and pollinator visitation in apples and cherries 2) test the effect of two different treatment rates of Polynate™ in blueberries and 3) determine the precise mechanism of attraction in honey bees to Polynate™.  The first and second objectives will be accomplished by assessing the differences in forager visitation rates and fruit yield in crops treated and untreated with Polynate™.  The third objective will be accomplished by directly observing the responses of honey bees to Polynate™ in an outdoor hoop house.  It is expected, as found in preliminary experiments, that Polynate™ will increase both honey bee forager numbers and fruit yield and that honey bees with be attracted to treated sucrose solutions as opposed to untreated.  It is also expected that there will either be no effect or a negative effect on bumblebees or other pollinators.
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