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Brewer, G.J.; Miwa, K.; Hanford, K. Measuring Bee Effects on Seed Traits of Hybrid Sunflower. Plants 2023, 12, 2662. https:// doi.org/10.3390/plants12142662
In hybrid sunflower, bee pollination can improve productivity, but the contribution of bees to productivity may be over or underestimated. To estimate bee effects (seed trait gains from exposure to bees during anthesis), single capitula are commonly covered with a porous material to exclude bees. However, depending on the exclosure porosity, estimates of the magnitude of bee effects will vary. In two studies, porosity size and bee effect gains in two sunflower types were tested. In the exclosure study, Delnet exclosures severely reduced seed set and exclosures with larger porosities and had smaller and similar effects. However, since a few small bees penetrated the largest porosity size tested, exclosures with porosity sizes <7 mm are recommended. With an exclosure porosity of 5 × 5 mm, the estimated bee effect contribution to the yield was 323 kg per hectare. Effects of exclosures on seed traits were similar in the oilseed and confectionary hybrids tested. Insecticide use did not affect seed traits but did lower insect damage to seeds. Bees from three families, mostly Apidae, were collected while foraging on sunflower. In summary, we recommend the use of exclosures with porosities of about 3 to 5 mm to avoid over or underestimating bee effects. And we recommend holistic insect management for sunflower cropping systems that balances the benefits of bee effects on seed traits with management of pest insects.