Under standard greenhouse conditions, the tomato fruits of spontaneous self-pollination are expected to be of lower quality than those of bee pollination, as well as that simultaneously use different bee species which can complement pollination services.
To test these hypotheses, the team evaluated the complementarity of pollination services from the use of three native stingless bee species that have distinct foraging behaviors, Melipona bicolor Lepeletier 1836, Nannotrigona testaceicornis (Lepeletier 1836) and Partamona helleri (Friese 1900) during flowering of cherry tomatoes in greenhouses.
Fruit quality parameters resulted from pollination experiments were measured and the acclimatization of the analyzed bee species was evaluated. Visits of M. bicolor and N. testaceicornis to the tomato flowers contributed significantly to the increase in the average weight, seed number, and thickness of the pericarp (only for N. testaceicornis) of the fruits, compared to the spontaneous self-pollination treatment. Partamona helleri, however, did not show any pollen collection behavior in the experimental conditions.
Although N. testaceicornis do not perform the buzzing behavior, fruits from its pollination were equivalent to those fruits from pollination by M. bicolor. The simultaneous use of bee species with different flower-visiting behaviors can optimize tomato pollination in greenhouses, contributing significantly to the quality of the fruits and the increase of productivity and consequently the commercial value.
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Moura-Moraes, Maira & Frantine-Silva, Wilson & Gaglianone, Maria Cristina & Campos, Lucio. (2021). The use of different stingless bee species to pollinate cherry tomatoes under protected cultivation. Sociobiology. 68. 5227. 10.13102/sociobiology.v68i1.5227.