Bhandari, K.B.; Longing, S.D.; West, C.P. Bees Occurring in Corn Production Fields Treated with Atoxigenic Aspergillus flavus (Texas, USA). Agronomy2020, 10, 571.
Bhandari, K.B.; Longing, S.D.; West, C.P. Bees Occurring in Corn Production Fields Treated with Atoxigenic Aspergillus flavus (Texas, USA). Agronomy 2020, 10, 571.
A saprophytic soil fungus, Aspergillus flavus, produces aflatoxin (toxigenic strains) in the kernels of corn (Zea mays L.) and seeds of many other crops. Many strains of A. flavus do not produce toxigenic aflatoxin, and soil application of these atoxigenic strains is a suppressive control tactic to assist in controlling toxigenic conspecifics. Effects of atoxigenic A. flavus applications on honey bees (Apis mellifera L.) and other bees are unknown, and basic information on bee occurrences in corn fields treated with and without this biological pesticide is needed to inform integrated pest management in corn. Fields with atoxigenic A. flavus applications were compared to nearby control fields in three counties in corn production regions in eastern Texas. In each corn field, twenty bee bowl traps were deployed along four equal transects located between corn rows, with contents of the bowls (i.e. bees) retrieved after 24 hours. Eleven bee genera from four families were collected from corn fields, with only two honey bees collected and zero honey bees observed in transects. The sweat bee genus Agapostemon (primarily composed of the Texas-striped sweat bee A. texanus) was most abundant in corn fields (44% of the total number of bees collected) followed by long-horned bees (Melissodes spp., 24%). The southernmost county (i.e. San Patricio) produced over 80% of the total number of bees collected. Bee communities occurring in corn production fields with applications of atoxigenic A. flavus applications were not significantly different from nearby control fields. While little is known of bee resource use in corn production systems in Texas, the abundant yet variable bee communities across latitudes in this study suggests a need to investigate the influence of farming practices on bee resources in regional corn production systems.
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