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Pollination, Pollinators & Agriculture: Canadian international leadership, then and now Peter Kevan Canadian Pollination Initiative University of Guelph,

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Presentation on theme: "Pollination, Pollinators & Agriculture: Canadian international leadership, then and now Peter Kevan Canadian Pollination Initiative University of Guelph,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Pollination, Pollinators & Agriculture: Canadian international leadership, then and now Peter Kevan Canadian Pollination Initiative University of Guelph, Ontario

2 Pollination & Pollinator Shortages Since the dawn of agriculture – Figs – Dates Amos of the Old Testament was a fig-piercer (2800 BP) Herodotus 2500 BP Babylonian date pollination by hand 3700 BP

3 Pollination & Pollinator Shortages Canadian Stories Canadian Examples: Canadian Leadership – An Apple a Day – Alfalfa Seeds, Forage, and Leafcutting Bees – Blueberries, Bees, Business & Litigation – Tomatoes & Bumblebees in the Greenhouse – Pollinator Biocontrol Biovectoring – Honeybees, Beekeeping … Honey, we got problems! – Emerging problems & NSERC-CANPOLIN

4 Pollination & Pollinator Shortages: Canadian Stories – Apple Apple in the Canadian East Native bees (many species) & effective (J. Macoun 1923, 1924) Insecticides problematic, studies by W.H. Brittain and team ( ) in Annapolis Valley, NS Solution John Macoun W. H. Brittain

5 Honeybee husbandry Hive-mounted pollen dispensers Pollination & Pollinator Shortages: Canadian Stories – Apple C. Jay, hive deployment studies in orchards Nova Scotia Ag. College dispenser

6 R & D Needs for Pollination in Fruit Production R & D needs – Pollination needs ( crosses between cultivars ) – Pollinator behaviour – Orchard design – Pollinator diversification – Wild pollinators

7 Pollination needs: Breeding System Apples are self-incompatible between cultivars Within cultivars, cross pollination does NOT result in fruit set McIntosh pollen G. Delicious Idared, Spy, etc. McIntosh flower

8 Pollinator Behaviour: Pollen Pick-up & Delivery Stigma touch/ Pollen collected ++++ Stigma touch/ Nectar collected +++ Stigma missed/ Nectar collected +/- Stigma missed/ Anthers missed - -

9 Floral Form & Bee Behaviour Mutsu – large gaps between filaments: bees can work from petals Jona Gold – filaments tight together: bees have to work from top Empire – filaments with small gaps

10 Pollination neighbourhood Most pollen comes from within 20m of each tree 20m Orchard Design: Gene Movement Mixed pollens on one flower: better fruit-set Some cultivars have “stud-pollen”; others have “wimp-pollen”

11 Pollination & Pollinator Shortages Canadian Stories – Alfalfa Alfalfa in the Canadian West F.W.L. Sladen (1918) advocated Megachile spp. for pollination To the 1940s, system seemed effective (Salt 1940) High productivity of alfalfa seed leads to expansion of fields By 1950s, problems!

12 Pollination & Pollinator Shortages: Canadian Stories - Alfalfa Small fields merged into Huge fields, no Megachile nesting habitat, except around edges Seed Yields drop: 1000 to 15 kg/ha (Stephen 1955) Solution

13 Pollination & Pollinator Shortages: Canadian Stories - Alfalfa Alfalfa leafcutting bee husbandry G. Hobbs, Lethbridge, AB ( perfected by mid 1960s ) Gordon Hobbs

14 Value of Leafcutter Bee Industry in Canada (ca. 2009) 50,000 bees per ha = over 2.0 Billion bee population in SK alone (75% of Canada’s alfalfa seed production) 13.5 Million kg seed/yr = $40 Million $25 Million/yr in exports Bees = 30+% of seed value = $ Million

15 Pollination & Pollinator Shortages: Canadian Stories - Lowbush Blueberries Maritimes & Quebec Canadian production – 300 Million kg/yr Exports = $323 Million Must be pollinated by bees – Buzz pollination – Wild bees (70+ species) – Honeybees

16 Pollination & Pollinator Shortages: Canadian Stories – Blueberries & the Forest Blueberry Pie Ecosystem & Pesticides – During Fenitrothion This example: New Brunswick Other similar examples: Quebec, Ontario

17 Pollination & Pollinator Shortages: Canadian Stories – Blueberries & the Forest New Brunswick’s Blueberries, Bees, & Pesticide Story Crop loss ≈ 0.7 million kg/year ! Fenitrothion

18 Solutions – Litigation – Restraining orders – More science Other pesticides Other pollinators Other plants Other places Pollination & Pollinator Shortages: Canadian Stories – Blueberries & the Forest Disrupted ecosystem function Reduced pollinator diversity and abundance Reduced fruit / seed set Kevan & Plowright,

19 Pollination & Pollinator Shortages: Canadian Stories – The Forest Solution – Tighter control on forest pesticide use – More emphasis on biocontrol – Recognition of pollinators in forest ecosystem function New Brunswick blueberry story was at the start of a major trend in pollinator conservation worldwide

20 Pollination & Pollinator Shortages: Canadian Stories – Greenhouse Tomatoes Still air Hand pollination – Labour costs $$$ – Reliability – Timing Solution

21 Pollination & Pollinator Shortages: Canadian Stories – Greenhouse Tomatoes Bumblebee culture MB Plowright & Jay 1966 ON Kevan et al BC Dogterom 1998 ON Morandin et al BC Winston team

22 Value of Greenhouse Tomato Production (ca. 2009) 736 Acres in Ontario ( 75% of Canadian production ) $290 Million/year 2 colonies/acre/month for 10 months – 20 $200 each/acre/year – $3.7 Million/year in Canada

23 Pollinator Biocontrol Biovectoring Pollinators carry microorganisms (pollen incl.) Can Biocontrol agents be carried by pollinators? Yes! – Entomopathogens of crop pest insects Lygus, thrips, aphids, whitefly, moths, beetles – Fungal antagonists to plant pathogens Grey mould, mummy berry, Schlerotinia, Rhizopus, Phomopsis

24 Greenhouse Experimental set up Each bumble bee hive was equipped with an inoculum dispenser. Inoculum was placed inside a removable tray.

25 Greenhouse results: Lygus mortality though bee vectored Beauvaria

26 Clonostachys on Blueberry Pollinating Bumblebees for Mummyberry & Greymould control PEI Organic/Pesticide- free Blueberry Farm, 2009 – 2012 trials

27 Value of Honeybees for Crop Pollination (ca. 2009) Est. value = $1.3 to $1.7 Billion annually in Canada – 300,000 colonies for hybrid canola seed – 35,000 colonies for blueberries – 15,000 colonies for fruit trees average $120/ colony = $42 Million in hive rentals/year Honey = $110 Million/year (28 Million kg)

28 Initiatives on Pollination & Pollinator Shortages: Canada at the Forefront NRCanada (1981) Pesticide Pollinator Interactions AgCanada (1989) National Workshop, Winnipeg ESC (1997) Pollinators & Mother Earth Canadian participation in International & US meetings (1992, ) US NRC (2007) Status of Pollinators in North America

29 Recent Canadian Initiatives CPPI – January, 2007 in Ottawa CANPOLIN – NSERC Strategic Network Proposal: submitted February 2008 ($5 million) City of Guelph Pollination Park 7 March 2008 CPPI – Urban pollination, 8 March 2008 National Wildlife Week, 30 April 2008 Pollinator Conservation in Practice, 13 Nov Funded Oct. 2008!


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