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Project Details

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Blue-banded bees as potential pollinators of lucerne
Summary The overarching aim of this project is to contribute to the development of sustainable,
longterm solutions for the foreseeable pollination shortage in the pasture seed
industry, by investigating the potential for crop pollination by native bee species and
by harnessing this potential.

Specifically, the aims of this project are to investigate both the usefulness of bluebanded
bees in the pollination of lucerne and some other pasture crops, and the
potential to enhance the presence of the bees on the crop by providing nest substrate
and by seeding them from existing cultures.
Program Pasture Seeds
Research organisation The University of Adelaide
Objective summary 1) Investigate the ability of bluebanded bees to pollinate lucerne. Honeybees are
often placed on lucerne at high densities, because they are not preferred by the bees.
We will investigate the ability of the native Australian bluebanded bees Amegilla
murrayensis to pollinate lucerne in captivity.
Our ability to breed the bees year round and to maintain them in captivity allows
relatively rapid testing of their ability to pollinate lucerne. Flowering lucerne plants
will be presented to bluebanded bees in enclosed flight compartments, and their pollination ability will be evaluated against controls of no pollination and honeybee
pollination.

2) Develop permanent nesting structures for management of bluebanded bees to
ensure pollinator activities on lucerne, and potentially also on other crops.
Nesting walls will be designed that will house bluebanded bee aggregations at the
crop sites. Different nesting substrates will be tested in confinement for their ability
to attract bluebanded bees. These substrates will vary with respect to the qualitative
and quantitative composition of clay and sand. Once established, experimental
nesting walls of the preferred substrate will be built outside, and seeded with nests
from the permanent breeding program that is in place at the University of Adelaide.
The potential to use and manage native bees as crop pollinators will yield significant
industrial, economic, environmental and scientific benefits. It particular, it should
help the lucerne industry, which currently has substantial pollination problems.
Furthermore, the promotion and use of native bees will help to safeguard against the
imminent loss of free pollination by feral honeybees and the subsequent increased
costs of paid pollination services.
Project Stage Closed
Project start date Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Project completion date Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Journal articles from project Not Available
National priority An environmentally sustainable Australia
Rural priority Soil, water and managing natural resources
RIRDC goal PSE-Production and processing efficiency and improved sustainability
Principal researcher Katja Hogendoorn
Research manager Michael Beer
Admin contact Chelsea Dubois