AuthorHagler, James Robert.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractDifficulties in pollen transfer have adversely affected seed production of hybrid onion (Allium cepa L.) in the United States. Six onion cultivars were examined for differential attractiveness to the honey bee (Apis mellifera L.). Honey bees clearly discriminated between the onion cultivars in both open plots and caged plots. Nectar secretion, nectar sugar concentration, nectar sugar composition, mectar potassium content, and flower phenology were correlated with honey bee visitation. Nectar secretion rates ranged from 0.54 to 0.84 ul per floret per day. Onion cultivars also demonstrated differential flowering potential. The cultivars produced from 176 to 359 flowers per umbel with 32 to 74 umbels per 30 onions. All onion cultivars examinaed contained viscous nectar with sugar concentrations ranging from 51 to 65% of total dissolved solids. Onion nectar was analyzed by gas chromatography to determine qualitative sugar differences among onion cultivars. All cultivars were hexose dominant with an approximately 1:1 fructose:glucose ratio. However, fructose was slightly more abundant than glucose. Sucrose was much less abundant than the hexose sugars. Atomic absorption spectrophotometry revealed little difference in potassium content among the A. cepa cultivars. Nectar potassium levels ranged from 5,300 ppm to 6,900 ppm. Cultivars with higher nectar potassium levels had fewer honey bee visits. Two honey bee bioassays were conducted. The first bioassay simulated the sugar and potassium composition of each onion cultivar. The honey bees selectively foraged on simulated nectars with low potassium and high sugar concentrations. The second bioassay was designed to test honey bee response to "phenolic-rich" solutions. The natural compounds tested were dilutions of salt cedar (Tamarix pentandra Pall.) honey, almond (Prunus dulcis Mill.) honey, and aloe (Aloe littoralis L.) nectar. The pure synthetic compounds tested were caffeic acid and genestic acid. Generally, honey bees foraged preferentially on the lower phenolic concentrations, indicating that compounds high in phenolic composition inhibit honey bee foraging. Finally, seed yields of each of the cultivars were compared. Wide variations in yields were correlated with honey bee visitation, sugar composition, potassium levels, and flower phenology.