A Traits-based approach to determining flower visitation by pollinating bees using Vicia faba and Phaseolus vulgaris as model species
I am a Biology student from LMU Munich. Since my early semesters I was interested in studying the flower pollinator interaction. When I moved to the UK, I found out about CAWR, and took great interest in its research projects. Dr. Barbara Smith offered me to do my Bachelor Thesis within one of the current TRUE Projects, related to pollinating bees. The questions that I addressed in my research were: if bees show a preference for any of the selected varieties of Broad Beans and French Beans, and if the bees choose heritage varieties over modern ones.
This work was focused on bees, which provide an important ecosystem service in insect pollinated crops. The work was carried out within the TRUE platform about “Heritage varieties for enhanced human and beneficial insect nutrition”. TRUE, which stands for "TRansition paths to sUstainable legume based systems in Europe" is an European project that intends to “identify the best routes [...] to increase sustainable legume cultivation and consumption across Europe” . For this project a mixture of heritage and modern/commercial varieties were assessed in a fully randomized repeated trial in a polyculture field. The differences in flower morphology, nectar quantity and quality were analysed. To find a preference between the varieties, the local bee community on site was established and bees visiting and feeding on the flowering crops were observed. The results showed, that bees were more attracted to some of the crop varieties. Interestingly, modern as well as heritage varieties were visited. There were also representatives from modern and heritage varieties with high nectar quantity and quality.
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