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Increasing seed yield in Papaver somniferum L. with the use of honey bees (Apis mellifera L.)

Merry, AM ORCID: 0000-0002-7901-2228, Corkrey, R ORCID: 0000-0002-2242-2891, Westmore, GC ORCID: 0000-0001-6843-3118 and Dean, GJ ORCID: 0000-0002-3502-2248 2017 , 'Increasing seed yield in Papaver somniferum L. with the use of honey bees (Apis mellifera L.)', paper presented at the 18th Australian Agronomy Conference 2017, 24-28 September 2017, Ballarat, Victoria.

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Honeybees (Apis mellifera L.) are known to play a role in pollination of poppy (Papaver somniferum L.) and could be used in seed crops to increase yield. Experiments were conducted on commercial poppy crops in northern Tasmania to establish the relationship between a gradient of honeybees and seed yield of poppy. Three beehives were grouped in the centre of three commercial poppy fields and an additional three fields were chosen that had no hives as controls. Plots were established in a spiral design every 5 m from 10 m to 140 m radius from the centre, thus having plots ranging over distance from a higher density to a lower density of bees pollinating the flowers at treatment sites. There were significantly more seeds per capsule for all three capsule size classes: large, >25 mm; medium, 15-25 mm; and small, <15 mm, at the sites with beehives compared to the control. In addition for the large capsules there was a significant radial effect at the bee sites, with more seeds per capsule closer to the hive than further away. There was no radial effect for the control. For the medium sized capsules there was a similar radial trend for the sites with beehives and the inverse occurred at the control sites. This suggested that native pollinating insects were potentially coming in from the crop edge and increasing seed per capsule closer to the edge compared to towards the centre of the crop. Insect pollinations were also monitored using pan traps at set distances from the centre of the crop at each site. There were significantly more native pollinators captured at the edge of the crop than at any other distance from the centre of the field. Honeybees have been shown to increase yield in commercial poppy crops, and can be used to increase yield in crops were the yield of genetic superior seed is important.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Authors/Creators:Merry, AM and Corkrey, R and Westmore, GC and Dean, GJ
Keywords: bees, seed yield, Papaver somniferum L, Apis mellifera L
Journal or Publication Title: Proceedings from the 18th Australian Agronomy Conference 2017
Publisher: Australian Society of Agronomy
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2017 the Authors and the Australian Society of Agronomy

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