A sweet relationship: bees and canola production in Canada


Hoover SE, Melathopoulos AP, Waytes R, Robinson S, Pernal SF, Adamidis G, Cartar RV (2021) A sweet relationship: bees and canola production in Canada. Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Manitoba, 77: 79, 3-4 Dec 2021,Winnipeg, MB.


Insect pollination is required for, or enhances, the seed set of many angiosperm plants, including
approximately 75% of global crop species used for biofuel, human consumption, and animal
feed. This is especially true of the calorie and vitamin-rich crop species. Modern canola
production in Canada relies on hybrid seed, the production of which is dependent on pollination
by the Western Honey Bee (Apis mellifera) and the Alfalfa leafcutting bee (Megachile
rotundata), but the benefits of insect pollination to the commodity canola crop are less clear. We
will discuss the pollination of both canola crops in Canada. Our results demonstrate that
pollinator effectiveness is dependent on both the pollinator taxa, as well as their behaviour. We
also demonstrate that in the Lethbridge region, self- and wind-pollination may be sufficient to
enable full yield of commodity canola, however pollination causes plants to alter their functional
characteristics, changing the total number of flowers, flower timing, root biomass, and whether
pod production occurred on the main stem or branches. In a greenhouse trial, the addition of
bumble bees resulted in equivalent or higher yields of commodity canola, suggesting that the
benefit of pollinators to canola is context-dependent, and extends beyond simple measures of

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