Source: OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY submitted to
USING BEES TO POLLINATE HYBRID SOYBEAN SEED
Sponsoring Institution
National Institute of Food and Agriculture
Project Status
TERMINATED
Funding Source
Reporting Frequency
Annual
Accession No.
0198692
Grant No.
(N/A)
Project No.
OHO01071
Proposal No.
(N/A)
Multistate No.
(N/A)
Program Code
(N/A)
Project Start Date
Apr 1, 2004
Project End Date
Sep 30, 2007
Grant Year
(N/A)
Project Director
Tew, J. E.
Recipient Organization
OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY
1680 MADISON AVENUE
WOOSTER,OH 44691
Performing Department
ENTOMOLOGY
Non Technical Summary
Male Sterile soybeans blooms are not particularly attractive to insect pollinators. Yet, insect pollinator visits are necessary to produce hybrid soybean seeds. This project explores the pollinating behavior two different bee species, at known populations, in male-sterile soybean plots and the bees'foraging effects on subsequent seed set.
Animal Health Component
75%
Research Effort Categories
Basic
(N/A)
Applied
75%
Developmental
25%
Classification

Knowledge Area (KA)Subject of Investigation (SOI)Field of Science (FOS)Percent
20518201130100%
Knowledge Area
205 - Plant Management Systems;

Subject Of Investigation
1820 - Soybean;

Field Of Science
1130 - Entomology and acarology;
Goals / Objectives
1. This project compare the effectiveness of honey bees versus leaf cutter bees (Megachile rotundata (F.)in producing hybrid seed on male sterile plants having demonstrated high female fertility. 2. All insect pollinator activity will be monitored, but honey bee and leaf cutter bee activity, at known supplemental populations, within test plots of male sterile soybean plants, will be specifically observed. 3. This project will help to determine appropriate levels of honey bees and leaf cutter populations and will help determine appropriate timing for placing pollinators in the field. 4. This project will help develop management schemes for honey bees and leaf cutter populations within hybrid soybean test plots. 5. When possible, naturally occurring honey bee foragers on male sterile soybeans will be monitored.
Project Methods
Four sources of male sterility with proven high female fertility (ms6, ms6-Corsoy, ms1-Urb and ms-unknown) will be planted in two separate hybrid seed fields at Wooster, OH in 2004. In one field, honey bees will be used as the pollinators and in the other field, leaf cutter bees. A ratio of 1 pollinator row to 2 male sterile rows will be used with 4 replications. Seed set per plant and seed yield (bu/a) will be determined. Different populations of both honey bees (Apis mellifera)and leaf cutter bees (Megachile rotundata (F.)will be used to determine if seed set is increased with increased bee populations. Increased population levels of honey bees simply leave the test area when over populated. Though leaf cutters tend to stay in or near the test area, in earlier observations, increased levels of leaf cutter bees did not result in increased seed production. Within this study, efforts will be made to develop recommendations for both honey bee and leaf cutter populations in hybrid soybeans. To limit potential variation, Leafcutter bees will be purchased from a single Idaho producer. Management schemes for honey bee colonies should be uneventful during the study. When soybeans bloom in July, honey bee colonies are already at maximum strength (approximately 50,000 bees per unit). Beehives can easily be moved in and moved out as required. However, management schemes for leaf cutter bees are more tedious. In Ohio, leaf cutter bees must be purchased from bee producers in the Pacific Northwest. If empty nesting blocks are not provided, leaf cutters leave the area searching for natural nesting sites. Empty nest blocks will be provided to determine how many leaf cutter bees can be enticed to nest in the new blocks. Procedures for ordering, storing, and releasing leaf cutters in soybeans will be explored. Foraging activity counts will be taken throughout the blooming season to gauge seasonal forager behavior. Since honey bees are wide-ranging pollinators, feral honey bees foraging within the leaf cutter pollinated test plot will be monitored. Ideally, some estimation of the value of natural honey bee pollinators within leaf cutter pollinated plots will be developed. Leaf cuttings, as evidence of leaf cutter nesting activity, will be recorded per length of row. The occasional presence of other insect pollinators will also be noted.

Progress 01/01/08 to 12/31/08

Outputs
OUTPUTS: Presently, hybrid soybean varieties are unavailable to commercial soybean producers. If hybrid soybean seeds were readily available, theoretically, soybean yields would increase to levels comparable to other common hybrid crops such as corn and rice. One factor restricting hybrid soybean seen production is pollination. Male-sterile soybean blooms are generally unattractive to be pollinators. In this study, different supplemental populations of honey bees (Apis mellifera) and alfalfa leafcutting bees (Megachile rotundata (F.)) were provided as pollinators in test plots of male sterile soybean varieties in Ames, Iowa and Wooster, Ohio. Some activities for this reporting period include evaluations of bee foraging data in preparation for publication and instructing beekeepers and growers on ways to improve hybrid soybean pollination. A beekeeping field day was conducted and five pollination lectures were presented to beekeeper groups on the subject. This study has confirmed that hybrid soybean varieties can be difficult, but not impossible, to pollinate. The pollination techniques and bee behavioral models have been transferred to bee providers and to soybean growers. This has been accomplished by: presentations at professional academic meetings, presentations at commodity meetings, and personal communication with soybean producers and with bee providers. PARTICIPANTS: Nothing significant to report during this reporting period. TARGET AUDIENCES: Some of the groups affected by the development of hybrid soybean production would be: soybean growers, commercial beekeepers, food processors, industrial materials processors, researchers, and ultimately, consumers. PROJECT MODIFICATIONS: Not relevant to this project.

Impacts
Summary: Presently, varieties of hybrid soybean seeds are not commercially available. Insect pollination is one of the factors restricting hybrid soybean seed set. Situation: To produce hybrid soybeans, one of the plant parents must produce sterile pollen; therefore, a small amount of nectar is the only insect attractant to blooms on the pollen- sterile (male- sterile) plant. Foraging bees tend to neglect these unrewarding plants and search elsewhere for better sources of pollen and nectar. Consequently, no hybrid soybean seed is produced. Response: OARDC/OSU scientists are working with USDA scientists to explore hybrid soybean production schemes and related ways to improve pollination efficiency. Research tests using both honey bees (Apis mellifera) and leafcutting bees (Megachile rotundata (F.)) as pollinators have shown that either of these bee species can be used as hybrid seed pollinators if managed properly. The cost and availability of either bee species would be the determining factor in deciding which species to use for hybrid soybean pollination. This information has been distributed at grower meetings and at commercial beekeeper meetings and will be distributed in future factsheets and on university web pages. Impact: Soybeans are an important international food and commodity crop. Soybeans are used in hundreds of materials ranging from human food to paint components to electrical insulation. Importantly, biodiesel fuels can be manufactured from soybean oil. Being able to increase yields of soybean through hybridization is a logical way to increase production and output without having to put more farmland into production. Production costs would be reduced. Readily available hybrid soybean varieties would have both a national and international effect on yield levels of this important crop.

Publications

  • Tew, J. E., Ortiz-Perz, E., Mian, R., Cooper, R. L., Mendolia, T., Horner, H. T., Hanlin, S. J., and Palmer, R. G. 2008. Seed-set Evaluation of Four Male-Sterile, Female-Fertile Soy Bean Lines Using Alfalfa Leafcutting Bees and Honey Bees as Pollinators. United Kingdom, Journal Ag Science. 2008 vol 146; pp 461-469.


Progress 04/01/04 to 09/30/08

Outputs
Male sterile hybrid soybeans blossoms are generally unattractive to honey bee foragers. Leaf cutter bees were evaluated as an alternative and as a supplement to honey bee pollinators. In Ohio, high quantities of hybrid seed yields were difficult to obtain. No doubt, in some years, seasonal variations, such as drought-like conditions that stress test plants, were factors. Another continuing challenge is the development of a field plot design that entices foragers to remain within the test area rather than forage outside the small test areas. Honey bees and leaf cutter bees are dependable hybrid soybean pollinators, and must be used when producing hybrid soybean seed, but luring pollinators to the test plant area remains difficult.

Impacts
Hybrid soybean development could significantly increase soybean yield. However, to produce the hybrid plant variety, pollen production in test plants must be restricted. This restriction decreases the attractiveness of the hybrid blossom to bees. Bee visits are necessary to transfer pollen to hybrid plants; therefore, care must be given when selecting soybean varieties that are attractive to bees. There must be some reward for foragers or they will quickly begin to search for other nectar and pollen sources. Artificial attractants applied to test plants did not prove effective.

Publications

  • No publications reported this period


Progress 01/01/07 to 12/31/07

Outputs
Male sterile hybrid soybeans blossoms are generally unattractive to honey bee foragers. Leaf cutter bees were evaluated as an alternative and as a supplement to honey bee pollinators. In Ohio, high quantities of hybrid seed yields were difficult to obtain. No doubt, in some years, seasonal variations, such as drought-like conditions that stress test plants, were factors. Another continuing challenge is the development of a field plot design that entices foragers to remain within the test area rather than forage outside the small test areas. Honey bees and leaf cutter bees are dependable hybrid soybean pollinators, and must be used when producing hybrid soybean seed, but luring pollinators to the test plant area remains difficult.

Impacts
Hybrid soybean development could significantly increase soybean yield. However, to produce the hybrid plant variety, pollen production in test plants must be restricted. This restriction decreases the attractiveness of the hybrid blossom to bees. Bee visits are necessary to transfer pollen to hybrid plants; therefore, care must be given when selecting soybean varieties that are attractive to bees. There must be some reward for foragers or they will quickly begin to search for other nectar and pollen sources. Artificial attractants applied to test plants did not prove effective.

Publications

  • No publications reported this period


Progress 04/01/04 to 09/30/07

Outputs
OUTPUTS: Presently, hybrid soybean varieties are unavailable to commercial soybean producers. If hybrid soybean seeds were readily available, theoretically, soybean yields would increase to levels comparable to other common hybrid crops such as corn and rice. One factor restricting hybrid soybean seen production is pollination. Male-sterile soybean blooms are generally unattractive to be pollinators. In this study, different supplemental populations of honey bees (Apis mellifera) and alfalfa leafcutting bees (Megachile rotundata (F.)) were provided as pollinators in test plots of male sterile soybean varieties in Ames, Iowa and Wooster, Ohio. Some activities for this reporting period include evaluations of bee foraging data in preparation for publication and instructing beekeepers and growers on ways to improve hybrid soybean pollination. A beekeeping field day was conducted and five pollination lectures were presented to beekeeper groups on the subject. This study has confirmed that hybrid soybean varieties can be difficult, but not impossible, to pollinate. The pollination techniques and bee behavioral models have been transferred to bee providers and to soybean growers. This has been accomplished by: presentations at professional academic meetings, presentations at commodity meetings, and personal communication with soybean producers and with bee providers. PARTICIPANTS: Nothing significant to report during this reporting period. TARGET AUDIENCES: Some of the groups affected by the development of hybrid soybean production would be: soybean growers, commercial beekeepers, food processors, industrial materials processors, researchers, and ultimately, consumers. PROJECT MODIFICATIONS: Not relevant to this project.

Impacts
Summary: Presently, varieties of hybrid soybean seeds are not commercially available. Insect pollination is one of the factors restricting hybrid soybean seed set. Situation: To produce hybrid soybeans, one of the plant parents must produce sterile pollen; therefore, a small amount of nectar is the only insect attractant to blooms on the pollen- sterile (male- sterile) plant. Foraging bees tend to neglect these unrewarding plants and search elsewhere for better sources of pollen and nectar. Consequently, no hybrid soybean seed is produced. Response: OARDC/OSU scientists are working with USDA scientists to explore hybrid soybean production schemes and related ways to improve pollination efficiency. Research tests using both honey bees (Apis mellifera) and leafcutting bees (Megachile rotundata (F.)) as pollinators have shown that either of these bee species can be used as hybrid seed pollinators if managed properly. The cost and availability of either bee species would be the determining factor in deciding which species to use for hybrid soybean pollination. This information has been distributed at grower meetings and at commercial beekeeper meetings and will be distributed in future factsheets and on university web pages. Impact: Soybeans are an important international food and commodity crop. Soybeans are used in hundreds of materials ranging from human food to paint components to electrical insulation. Importantly, biodiesel fuels can be manufactured from soybean oil. Being able to increase yields of soybean through hybridization is a logical way to increase production and output without having to put more farmland into production. Production costs would be reduced. Readily available hybrid soybean varieties would have both a national and international effect on yield levels of this important crop.

Publications

  • Tew, J. E., Ortiz-Perz, E., Mian, R., Cooper, R. L., Mendolia, T., Horner, H. T., Hanlin, S. J., and Palmer, R. G. 2008. Seed-set Evaluation of Four Male-Sterile, Female-Fertile Soy Bean Lines Using Alfalfa Leafcutting Bees and Honey Bees as Pollinators. United Kingdom, Journal Ag Science. 2008 vol 146; pp 461-469.


Progress 01/01/06 to 12/31/06

Outputs
Throughout the course of this study, male sterile soybeans have consistently been unattractive forage plants for either leafcutters or honey bees. During 2006, field observations of bee foragers, in common varieties of field soybeans in Ohio, did not show much more activity than forager activity in hybrid seed soybean plots in previous years. In Ohio, soybeans, in general, are unattractive to bee foragers; however, soybean blossoms are not totally ignored by either leafcutter or honey bee foragers. The reason for this regional characteristic of forager avoidance remains unknown. Observations made during 2006 and in previous years, indicate leafcutter flight activity is generally greater than honey bee flight activity in test plots. However, much of this flight activity is due to male leafcutter bees patrolling their mating territory and does not contribute to pollination success. Even so, results of hybrid seed set data indicate that leafcutters are better pollinators of hybrid seed soybeans than honey bees. Feral honey bee foragers could have had an effect on yield results. Data is being analyzed to develop appropriate pollination recommendations for male sterile hybrid soybeans in Ohio.

Impacts
Bees will be necessary to pollinate future crops of hybrid soybean. Leafcutter and honey bees are common choices for supplemental pollinating agents. Determining necessary pollinator populations and management procedures will be required to develop reliable pollination schemes and recommendations.

Publications

  • No publications reported this period


Progress 01/01/05 to 12/31/05

Outputs
During the 2005 spring/summer season, three male-sterile soybean varieties were planted at two different locations at Wooster, Ohio. Several weeks before soybean bloom, approximately 8000 leaf-cutter bees, in loose pupae form, were provided for one male-sterile block and a honey bee hive containing an estimated population of 50,000 worker bees was provided at the second block, located several kilometers away. In an attempt to keep them near the block, empty nesting tubes were provided for emerging leaf-cutter bees. End of season bean yield results were within the range of previous years or about 25 to 30 percent of a typical Ohio soybean yield. As in 2004, in all varieties tested, higher yields were obtained from the block pollinated by leaf cutters than in the honey bee pollinated block. Additionally, due to a honey bee apiary in proximity to the test site, there was a greater opportunity for feral honey bee foragers at the site hosting the honey bee foragers resulting in a potentially higher honey bee forager population in that block. These locations were reversed from the 2004 study to explore the possibility of extraneous honey bee foragers increasing yield in the leaf cutter block. Seemingly, that impact was minimal.

Impacts
Since male sterile soybean blossoms are unattractive to foragers, understanding and manipulating bee forager species and populations will be necessary in order to produce future hybrid soybean seed crops. Either honey bee or native bee foragers will be necessary to transfer pollen to male sterile soybean blossoms in order to produce hybrid soybean seed.

Publications

  • No publications reported this period


Progress 01/01/04 to 12/31/04

Outputs
During the 2004 season, four male-sterile soybean varieties were planted at two different locations at Wooster, Ohio. At the time of soybean bloom, 8000 leaf-cutter bees were provided for one block and a honey bee hive containing an total estimated population of 50,000 worker bees was provided at the second block, located several kilometers away. End of season bean yield results were meager in all but one variety resulting in about 25% of a typical Ohio soybean yield. In all varieties tested,higher yields were obtained from the block pollinated by leaf cutters than in the honey bee pollinated block. Male sterile soybean blossoms are marginally attractive to bee foragers. The low yield results have been typical in previous studies. Additionally, due to honey bee apiaries in proximity to the test site, there was a greater opportunity for feral honey bee foragers at the site hosting the leaf cutter bees. During the 2005 season, these locations will be reversed to determine if the extraneous honey bee foragers impact pollination in the leaf cutter block.

Impacts
Bee foragers will be necessary to transfer pollen to male sterile soybean blossoms in order to produce hybrid soybean seed. Since male sterile soybean blossoms are unattractive to foragers, understanding and manipulating bee forager populations will be necessary in order to produce future hybrid soybean seed crops.

Publications

  • No publications reported this period