Potential decreases in crop yield from reductions in bee-mediated pollination services threaten food production demands of a growing population. Many fruit and vegetable growers supplement their fields with bee colonies during crop bloom. The extent to which crop production requires supplementary pollination services beyond those provided by wild bees is not well documented. Pumpkin, Cucurbita pepo L., requires bee-mediated pollination for fruit development. Previous research identified the common eastern bumble bee, Bombus impatiens (Cresson), as the most efficient pumpkin pollinator. Two concomitant studies were conducted to examine pollination deficits in NewYork pumpkin fields from 2011 to 2013. In the first study, fruit weight, seed set, and B. impatiens visits to pumpkin flowers were compared across fields supplemented with B. impatiens colonies at a recommended stocking density of five colonies per hectare, a high density of 15 colonies per hectare, or not supplemented with bees. In the second study, fruit weight and seed set of pumpkins that received supplemental pollen through hand-pollination were compared with those that were openpollinated by wild bees. Results indicated that supplementing pumpkin fields with B. impatiens colonies, regardless of stocking density, did not increase fruit weight, seed set, or B. impatiens visits to pumpkin flowers. Fruit weight and seed set did not differ between hand- and open-pollinated treatments. In general, we conclude that pumpkin production in central New York is not limited by inadequate pollination services provided by wild bees and that on average, supplementation with B. impatiens colonies did not improve pumpkin yield.
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