What is the hypothesis being tested by this research?
If honey bees are incapable of performing buzz pollination to pollinate blueberries, yet still
pollinate these plants, then they must have some other method of transferring the pollen.
What general methods/approaches are used in the research?
The researchers began the experiment by collecting honey bees from 11 blueberry farms in
Oregon in April during both 2015 and 2016. They collected 30 honey bees from each of the three
varieties of bees that were being tested (Bluecrop, Draper, and Liberty) and put them directly in 30
milliliter vials and froze them. The bees were cut into 4 parts so that the researchers could analyze the
pollen collected on each part: head, thorax-abdomen, legs, and tarsi. Pollen was measured by placing each
body part in a microcentrifuge with 0.5 milliliters of hexane, however the thorax-abdomen sections were
placed in 95 percent ethanol instead of hexane. After the body segments were centrifuged, they were
removed from the vials and the solution was centrifuged again, the supernatant was removed and stored,
and finally the vials were centrifuged one last time. Ten microliters of the solutions were placed into a
machine and the pollen was counted and the total pollen estimates were determined using a mathematical
formula. Furthermore the researchers analyzed the bees as they visited flower clusters and noted every
time, “… a bee probed the aperture of the corolla, a tarsal claw grabbed a stigma, a portion of tarsus or leg
brushed the stigma, and a leg was inserted into the corolla deep enough for the tarsi to contact the
anthers.” The researchers then used SAS 9.3 software in order to create statistical models over the data
that was collected. In order to test the accuracy, multiple comparisons were done. Furthermore, the
researchers took into account any potential problems, such as accidentally observing one bee multiple
times, and ran these through other software programs to ensure the accuracy of the results.
What was the primary research finding and did it support the hypothesis or answer the primary
The primary research finding was that even though honey bees did not perform buzz pollination
to pollinate the blueberry plants, they pollinated them by touching and walking across the flowers and
unintentionally pollinating them. Most of the pollinating behaviors occurred when the bees landed on the
flower clusters and grabbed hold of neighboring flowers to the one that they were feeding on.
Furthermore, it was found that most of the pollen was present on the tarsi (63%), followed by the legs
(19%), then the head (12%), and finally the body (6%). This information was further broken down to
show that the most pollen was found on the first segment of the tarsus, the basitarsus (400 tetrads on
average.) This does support the hypothesis by showing that bees do pollinate blueberry plants differently:
they transfer the pollen that is on their tarsi...