A central focus of pollination biology is to document the relative effectiveness of different flower visitors as pollinators. Ongoing research seeks to determine the role that introduced honey bees (Apis mellifera L.) play in the pollination of both invasive and native plants. Here we report on the importance of A. mellifera as pollinators of a California native plant, Triteleia laxa Bentham. In observation plots and transect censuses, A. mellifera overwhelmingly dominated the T. laxa flower visitor assemblage. We believe the proximity to agriculture, where A. mellifera density is higher relative to areas far from agriculture, contributes to the discrepancy between A. mellifera abundance at the two sites. Although A. mellifera were inferior flower visitors qualitatively (visited less flowers per minute), they were the most frequent interactors with flowers. Furthermore, the proportion of visits to flowers on the same plant among flower visitor species did not differ, suggesting a general mechanism by which insects forage at T. laxa flowers and that A. mellifera do not cause more deleterious geitonogamy than do native pollinators. Flower visitation rates as a function of floral display size did not differ between A. mellifera and other flower visitors. The difference in the magnitude of flower visitation (largely by A. mellifera) between sites is consistent with a difference in seed set between sites. These results suggest that non-native A. mellifera bees can play an important role in the pollination of native plant species.
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