The possible role of honeybees in the spread of pollen from field trials

Research reports | 14.05.2012 | CGM 2012-02

Honey bees are important pollinators in agricultural crops, home gardens, orchards and wildlife habitats. As they fly from flower to flower in search of nectar and pollen, they transfer pollen from plant to plant, thus fertilizing the plants and enabling them to bear fruit. In light of this, honey bees could be a factor in spreading pollen grains derived from genetically modified (GM) plants in field trials. The extent to which pollen dispersal occurs and the distances achieved depends on many factors.

An overview of relevant information concerning the relationship between honey bees and pollen is presented, based on a literature survey, a database of pollen composition of Dutch honeys and a concise laboratory experiment. More in particular, this report encompasses:

  • Information about the spread of pollen by honey bees, in connection with determining the possibility of pollen transport and potential cross-pollination with related (wild) plants in the surrounding environment
  • Information about the presence of pollen in honey
  • An experimental estimation of the pollen content of honeys (in µg pollen/g honey)
  • Information about beekeepers and beekeeping in The Netherlands
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