Free access
Issue
Apidologie
Volume 34, Number 3, May-June 2003
Page(s) 299 - 309
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/apido:2003022
Apidologie 34 (2003) 299-309
DOI: 10.1051/apido:2003022

Honey bee (Apis mellifera) strains differ in avocado (Persea americana) nectar foraging preference

Arnon Daga, A. Elizabeth Fetscherb, Ohad Afikc, Yelena Yeselsond, Arthur Schafferd, Yossi Kamera, Nicholas M. Waserb, Monica A. Madoree, Mary Lu Arpaiae, Reuben Hofshif and Sharoni Shafirc

a  Institute of Animal Science, Volcani Center, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, PO Box 6, Bet Dagan 50250, Israel
b  Department of Biology, University of California, Riverside, CA 92521, USA
c  B. Triwaks Bee Research Center, Department of Entomology, Faculty of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Quality Sciences, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Rehovot 76100, Israel
d  Department of Vegetable Crops, Volcani Center, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, PO Box 6, Bet Dagan 50250, Israel
e  Department of Botany and Plant Sciences, University of California, Riverside, CA 92521, USA
f  www.avocadosource.com

(Received 12 February 2002; revised 25 October 2002; accepted 28 November 2002)

Abstract
Avocado nectar is unusual because it contains perseitol, a 7-carbon sugar alcohol. We compared avocado-nectar collection by commonly used Italian-based (IT) honey bee colonies and New World Carniolan (NWC) colonies introduced in avocado orchards in Israel (IS) and California (CA). In IS, NWC colonies had greater honey yields (1.2-4.3 fold), with a higher perseitol content (1.1-5.4 fold), than IT colonies. Overall, we calculated that NWC bees collected 1.4 to 18.1 times more avocado nectar than IT bees in the IS orchards. In CA, analyses of the crop contents of foragers revealed non-significant strain-specific trends in visitation to avocado flowers that were consistent with those indicated by data from IS. The genetic basis for honey bee differences in visitation to avocado flowers was further supported by the consistently high honey perseitol content of selected colonies over two years. The implications of possible strain-specific difference in avocado-nectar preference are discussed in relation to the use of honey bees for avocado pollination.


Key words: Apis mellifera / Persea americana / perseitol / pollination / preference

Correspondence and reprints: Sharoni Shafir
    e-mail: shafir@agri.huji.ac.il

© INRA, EDP Sciences, DIB, AGIB 2003