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Agronomy Journal Abstract -

Honey Bees as Pollinators for Hybrid Cotton Seed Production on the Texas High Plains1


This article in AJ

  1. Vol. 76 No. 6, p. 1005-1010
    Received: Dec 5, 1983

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  1. Bernard E. Vaissière,
  2. Joseph O. Moffett and
  3. Gerald M. Loper2



The production of hybrid cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.) seed on a large scale requires the use of an economical and reliable agent for pollen transfer. In 1980, five commercial fields of cytoplasmicgenetic male-sterile (A-line) and male-fertile maintainer (B-line) cotton were grown on a thermic Torrertic Paleustolls soil on the Texas High Plains. To test the ability of the honey bee [Apis mellifera L. (Hymenoptera: Apidae)] for pollinating A-line cotton, colonies were placed along the sides of three fields. In the two fields (14 ha; 15.5 colonies/ha, and 24 ha; 13.2 colonies/ha) where honey bee colonies were distributed along at least three sides of a field, the seed cotton yield of the A-line was not significantly different from that of the B-line, so that, when grown under a similar environment and with adequate pollen transfer, the A- and B-lines produced equal yields of seed cotton. In the 24-ha field, uniform pollination was achieved. In a third field (15.2 ha; 7.5 colonies/ha) where hives were located along only one edge, however, the A-line seed cotton yield was 30% less than that of the B-line and pollination was not uniform. In two other fields (4.0 and 1.4 ha, respectively) where no honey bees were provided, the A-line yielded 79% less seed cotton than the B-line in one case and 91% less in the other. Results demonstrated that pollen was transferred by honey bees, and the transfer efficiency depended upon the number and distribution of the colonies. On the other hand, pollination was highly variable and less than adequate when only native pollinators were present.

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