Brood pheromone modulated the foraging behavior of commercial honey bee, Apis mellifera L., colonies pollinating a 10-ha market garden of cucumber, Cucurbita pepo L., and zucchini, Cucumis sativus L., in Texas in late autumn. Six colonies were randomly selected to receive 2,000 larval equivalents of brood pheromone and six received a blank control. The ratio of pollen to nonpollen foragers entering colonies was significantly greater in pheromone-treated colonies 1 h after treatment. Pheromone-treated foragers returned with pollen load weights that were significantly heavier than controls. Pollen returned by pheromone-treated foragers was 43% more likely to originate from the target crop. Number of pollen grains washed from the bodies of nonpollen foragers from pheromone-treated colonies was significantly greater than controls and the pollen was 54% more likely to originate from the target crop. Increasing the foraging stimulus environment with brood pheromone increased colony-level foraging and individual forager efforts. Brood pheromone is a promising technology for increasing the pollination activity and efficiency of commercial honey bee colonies.
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Vol. 97 • No. 3