Considerations for improving honeybee pollination of citrus hybrids in Florida

L. Gene Albrigo, Ralph V. Russ

Abstract


Most citrus hybrids grown in Florida are self-incompatible or in some cases even cross- incompatible with some other cultivars. They generally have small flowers and produce much less nectar per flower than large flowered citrus cultivars. Bees prefer large flowered cultivars which have more nectar than small flowered ones. Since flowers of hybrid cultivars generally are not preferred by bees, timing of placement and location of bee hives is critical to increase bee activity into hybrid blocks that require pollination for fruit production. Bees develop initial preferences for early flowering cultivars (round oranges) and may not easily change foraging locations for the smaller mandarin flowers. In controlled tests, bee attractants sprayed on citrus trees at bloom did not increase bee visits. Bee hive location in relationship to a block of hybrids can improve pollination, but hedge-rows in mature blocks limit bee movement across rows. Skirting and cross hedging can increase bee activity across more rows from pollenizer trees. General guidelines for improving pollination are discussed.

Keywords


hive placement; tree skirting; cross hedging; pollinizers

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Proc. Fla. State Hort. Soc.     ISSN 0886-7283