Pretty to look at, but they taste awful to a bee
Pear (Pyrus bretschneideri) is characterized by being self-incompatible and dependent on cross-pollination to set fruit. Honeybee (Apis mellifera) is considered the most important pollinator of pear. Nevertheless, limited pollen transfer has been cited as the main cause of poor fruit set in many pear orchards. Here, we tested the following hypotheses: (i) colony manipulations increase the pollen collection tendency of honeybees and (ii) the proportion of pollen loads being returned to the hive is from the target plant. The technique reliably and rapidly estimates the pollination of honeybees tested under different colony manipulations: (1) using pollen trapping (PT); (2) PT with sugar syrup feeding (SS) (PTSS); (3) SS alone and (4) control without PT and SS. The results clearly show that the pollen collection of honeybees during the experiment was significantly affected (P < 0.05) by colony manipulations. The mean amount of pollen harvested daily was higher for PTSS (19.4 g) and PT (16.4 g) than for SS (12.85 g) and control (8.7 g) colonies. Therefore, PTSS was the most effective treatment for increasing pear pollen collection; other treatments such as PT and SS could also be useful. This study was important for determining how the behavior of honeybee colonies is shaped through colony manipulation to enhance pollen collection of less preferred pear flowers, which is critical when pollination is required.