21 December, 2019

Insect pollinators of conference pear and their contribution to fruit quality

By Fountain et al.

The main pear variety grown in the UK is Conference, however not all fruit is harvested because around 6% are misshapen and unmarketable. This study aimed to identify the main pollinating insects of pear and investigate the contribution they make to pear quality. We also investigated cross pollinating Conference with other varieties to improve pear shape. A wide range of insects, more than 30 species, visited pear flowers including honeybees, bumblebees, solitary bees and hoverflies resulting in 10% higher fruit set. Cross pollination of Conference with the variety Concorde also produced better quality fruits. We discuss how pollination of Conference pears could be managed to improve yield of marketable fruit and hence reduce waste.

Read the scientific publication in JPE.

13 November, 2019

Patterns of nectar production in Asclepias curassavica (Apocynaceae)

by Steven B. Broyles & Kiley Stoj

Nectar bubbling above the floral hood of tropical milkweed.
Milkweeds are important nectar sources for insect pollinators in the New World.  Milkweed nectar flows from stigmatic chambers, where pollen germinate, to the brightly coloured floral hoods.  We examined the timing and quantity of nectar production in the tropical milkweed, Asclepias currassavica, in a controlled greenhouse study.  Our results show that tropical milkweed secrets nectar during daylight hours in quantities that are attractive to diurnal insects and promote pollen germination.  In addition, tropical milkweed may respond to pollinator activity by increasing nectar production to flowers that receive insect visits.  Nectar production varies between individual plants and even between different inflorescences within plants.  Altogether, tropical milkweed is an easy to grow species that provides an abundant source of nectar to native insect pollinators in natural populations and gardens.

Read the scientific publication in JPE.