Proceedings of the Zoological Society

, Volume 71, Issue 1, pp 88–91 | Cite as

Pollinator Limitation and Crop Production: Experimental Observations on Few Economically Important Vegetable Crops in West Bengal, India

  • Ritam Bhattacharya
  • Parthiba Basu
Research Article


Pollination limitation and its impact on agricultural production is a serious concern of recent time. Assessment of the extent of dependency of various pollinator dependent crops on insect pollination assumes importance in this context. On the other hand, measures for restoring the pollination service needs to be explored for sustainable production of economically important crops particularly for the benefit of the small and marginal farmers. The present study aimed to assess the extent of insect pollinator dependency of brinjal (eggplant) fruit production and impact of honey bee (Apis cerana F) box introduction on the production in vegetable farms of North 24 Parganas, West Bengal, India. Through a pollinator exclusion experiment using enclosures it was found that brinjal fruit production reduces by 54.5 % when they are pollinator limited. This finding is in contrast with earlier report of 25 % dependency. The flower density in a pollinator limited environment was observed to increase by 31 %. This might be plant’s response to pollinator limitation where the plant invests more on reproductive structure than vegetative structures. However, this requires further exploration. Introduction of bee boxes in brinjal, pumpkin and pointed gourd farms showed significant increase in fruit production. This indicates both pollination limitation as well as the need for increasing the pollinators in the crop field for sustainable crop production.


Pollinator limitation Apis cerana Bee box Vegetable fruit production Brinjal Pumpkin Pointed gourd 



We thank Mr. Nishambhu Sarkar, Mrs. Sandhya Mondal and Mr. Nilangshu Gayen of Swanirvar, an NGO based in Andharmanik, North 24 Parganas, West Bengal, India for providing logistics for this work. This project (328(Sanc.)/ST/P/S & T/1G-6/2009) was funded by Department of Science of Technology, Government of West Bengal, India.


  1. Aizen, M.A., L.A. Garibaldi, S.A. Cunningham, and A.M. Klein. 2008. Long-term global trends in crop yield and production reveal no current pollination shortage but increasing pollinator dependency. Current Biology 18: 1572–1575.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Alarcón, R. 2010. Congruence between visitation and pollen-transport networks in a California plant–pollinator community. Oikos 119: 35–44. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0706.2009.17694.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Allen-Wardell, G., P. Bernhardt, R. Bitner, A. Burquez, S. Buchmann, J. Cane, and D. Inouye. 1998. The potential consequences of pollinator declines on the conservation of biodiversity and stability of food crop yields. Conservation Biology 12: 8–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Basu, P., R. Bhattacharya, and P.P. Iannetta. 2011. A decline in pollinator dependent vegetable crop productivity in India indicates pollination limitation and consequent agro-economic crises. Nature Precedings.
  5. Bosch, J., and W.P. Kemp. 2002. Developing and establishing bee species as crop pollinators: The example of Osmia spp. (Hymenoptera: Megachilidae) and fruit trees. Bulletin of Entomological Research 92(01): 3–16.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Carr, S.A., and P. Davidar. 2015. Pollinator dependency, pollen limitation and pollinator visitation rates to six vegetable crops in southern India. Journal of Pollination Ecology 16(8): 51–57.Google Scholar
  7. Delaplane, K.S., D.R. Mayer, and D.F. Mayer. 2000. Crop pollination by bees. Cambridge: CABI publishing.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. FAOSTAT. Data available at Accessed 2011.
  9. Fazal, S. 2000. Urban expansion and loss of agricultural land, a GIS based study of Saharanpur City, India. Environment and Urbanization 12: 133–149.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Free, J.B. 1993. Insect pollination of crops. London: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  11. Gallai, N., J.M. Salles, L. Settele, and B.E. Vaissière. 2009. Economic valuation of the vulnerability of world agriculture confronted with pollinator decline. Ecological Economics 68(3): 810–821.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Garratt, M.P., T.D. Breeze, N. Jenner, C. Polce, J.C. Biesmeijer, and S.G. Potts. 2014. Avoiding a bad apple: Insect pollination enhances fruit quality and economic value. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment 184: 34–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Hines, H.M., and S.D. Hendrix. 2005. Bumble bee (Hymenoptera: Apidae) diversity and abundance in tall grass prairie patches: Effects of local and landscape floral resources. Environmental Entomology 34(6): 1477–1484.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Kearns, C.A., D.W. Inouye, and N.M. Waser. 1998. Endangered mutualisms: the conservation of plant-pollinator interactions. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 29(1): 83–112.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Klein, A.M., B.E. Vaissiere, J.H. Cane, I. Steffan-Dewenter, S.A. Cunningham, C. Kremen, and T. Tscharntke. 2007. Importance of pollinators in changing landscapes for world crops. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences 274(1608): 303–313.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Kowalska, G. 2008. Flowering biology of eggplant and procedures intensifying fruit-set. Acta Scientiarum Polonorum, Hortorum Cultus 7(4): 63–76.Google Scholar
  17. Maccagnani, B., E. Ladurner, F. Santi, and G. Burgio. 2003. Osmia cornuta (Hymenoptera, Megachilidae) as a pollinator of pear (Pyrus communis): Fruit-and seed-set. Apidologie 34(3): 207–216.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Morse, R.A., and N.W. Calderone. 2000. The value of honey bees as pollinators of US crops in 2000. Bee Culture 128(3): 1–15.Google Scholar
  19. Potts, S.G., B. Vulliamy, S. Roberts, C. O’Toole, A. Dafni, G. Ne’eman, and P. Willmer. 2005. Role of nesting resources in organising diverse bee communities in a Mediterranean landscape. Ecological Entomology 30(1): 78–85.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Rahile, B.S., S.I. Ghugal, K.B. Bramhankar, and P.A. Gedam. 2016. Beekeeping for pollination–Sustainable approach to enhance yields in Vidarbha region. International Journal of Life Sciences Special Issue A6: 195–197.Google Scholar
  21. Richards, A.J. 2001. Does low biodiversity resulting from modern agricultural practice affect crop pollination and yield? Annals of Botany 88(2): 165–172.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Roubik, D. W. 1995. Pollination of cultivated plants in the tropics. Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) Agricultural Services Bulletin. Rome: FAO.Google Scholar
  23. Sambandam, C.N. 1964. Natural cross pollination in eggplant (Solanum melongena). Economic Botany 18(2): 128–131.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Shaw, A., and M. Satish. 2007. Metropolitan restructuring in post-liberalized India: Separating the global and the local. Cities 24: 148–163.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Sidhu, M.S. 2005. Fruit and vegetable processing Industry in India: An appraisal of the post reform period. Economic and Political Weekly 9 July.Google Scholar
  26. Stern, R.A., M. Goldway, A.H. Zisovich, S. Shafir, and A. Dag. 2004. Sequential introduction of honeybee colonies increases cross-pollination, fruit-set and yield of ‘Spadona’ pear (Pyrus communis L.). The Journal of Horticultural Science & Biotechnology 79(4): 652–658.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Stern, R.A., G. Sapir, S. Shafir, A. Dag, and M. Goldway. 2007. The appropriate management of honey bee colonies for pollination of Rosaceae fruit trees in warm climates. Middle Eastern and Russian Journal of Plant Science and Biotechnology 1(1): 13–19.Google Scholar
  28. Sutherland, S., and L.F. Delph. 1984. On the importance of male fitness in plants: Patterns of fruit-set. Ecology 65(4): 1093–1104.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Torchio, P. 1985. Field experiments with the pollinator species, Osmia lignaria propinqua Cresson, in apple orchards: V (1979–1980), Methods of introducing bees, nesting success, seed counts, fruit yields (Hymenoptera: Megachilidae). Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society 58(3): 448–464.Google Scholar
  30. Vicens, N., and J. Bosch. 2000. Pollinating efficacy of Osmia cornuta and Apis mellifera (Hymenoptera: Megachilidae, Apidae) on ‘red delicious’ apple. Environmental Entomology 29(2): 235–240.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Zoological Society, Kolkata, India 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Ecology Research Unit, Department of ZoologyUniversity of CalcuttaKolkataIndia
  2. 2.Department of Zoology & Centre for Pollination StudiesUniversity of CalcuttaKolkataIndia

Personalised recommendations