The Role of Honeybee Pollination in Native New Zealand Plants
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Honeybees (Apis mellifera) fill a keystone role in the pollination of many plant species. Studies have found that honeybees visit native New Zealand plants, however, with exception to Metrosideros excelsa, little data on honeybee pollination has been collected. Therefore, the aim of my study was to gain an understanding of the role of honeybee pollination in native New Zealand plants which may aid conservation efforts. This was done by measuring components of pollinator performance, which encompassed flower visitation, visitor volume and pollen collection. Flower visitation was counted and timed from recordings. Visitor volume was measured live. Honeybee samples were collected whereby the number of pollen grains and pollen species was determined via acetolysis. My results showed that honeybees are likely good pollinators of many native plants. Honeybees often visited an ample number of flowers and consistently spent more time foraging than not. Furthermore, honeybees usually collected a large number of pollen grains in which most were conspecific. My study found that small plants with grouped flowers are likely to benefit the most from honeybee pollination. In contrast, plants with miniscule flowers, plants in cold, windy environments and the threatened Muehlenbeckia astonii are unlikely to benefit from honeybee pollination. My research fills part of the knowledge gap of honeybee pollination in native New Zealand plants which has implications in conservation. Research on the remainder of the honeybee pollinator performance components and cross-pollination by honeybees, particularly in natural environments, is needed. In addition, the pollinator performance of other pollinators needs to be investigated.