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1 December 2012 Comparison of the Efficiency of the Bumble Bees Bombus impatiens and Bombus ephippiatus (Hymenoptera: Apidae) as Pollinators of Tomato in Greenhouses
Alfonso Torres-Ruiz, Rorert W. Jones
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Experiments were conducted in a commercial tomato, Solanum lycopersicum L. (Solanaceae) greenhouse to compare the relative foraging effort and efficiency of two bumble bee species: Bombus impatiens Cresson, a species from northeastern North America, commercially reared and used for pollination in Mexico; and B. ephippiatus Say, a native species of Mexico and central America. B. ephippiatus was as efficient in pollination of tomatoes as B. impatiens, as indicated by all variables of fruit quality: fruit weight, number of seed per fruit, and maximum fruit diameter. The two species had similar levels of hourly and daily foraging activity. They had the same response to temperature fluctuation. Pollination rates by both species were similar and close to 100% throughout the sample period. However, B. impatiens showed greater foraging activity during the first half of the 27-d sample period, whereas B. ephipiatus had greater relative activity during the last half. This study establish that B. ephippiatus is as efficient as B. impatiens as a pollinator of tomatoes in greenhouses and thus a candidate as a managed pollinator. However, standard reliable methods for mass rearing of B. ephippiatus are not yet available. Such methods are necessary to ensure healthy colonies and optimum pollination for producers and will reduce the pressure for the unregulated collection of queens in the field and the subsequent reduction of populations of this species.

© 2012 Entomological Society of America
Alfonso Torres-Ruiz and Rorert W. Jones "Comparison of the Efficiency of the Bumble Bees Bombus impatiens and Bombus ephippiatus (Hymenoptera: Apidae) as Pollinators of Tomato in Greenhouses," Journal of Economic Entomology 105(6), 1871-1877, (1 December 2012).
Received: 29 April 2012; Accepted: 5 August 2012; Published: 1 December 2012

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Bombus ephippiatus
bumble bee
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