Biró É., Bódis J., Nagy T., Tökölyi J., Molnár V. A. (2015): Honeybee (Apis mellifera) mediated increased reproductive success of a rare deceptive orchid. Applied Ecology and Environmental Research 13(1): 181-192. DOI: 10.15666/aeer/1301_181192
Honeybees are the most numerous and significant among insect pollinators, but despite their significance their potential role in increasing the reproductive success of threatened European orchids remains largely unexplored. In this study we aim to evaluate the effect of apiary proximity on the fructification rate of the rare and endangered Adriatic Lizard Orchid (Himantoglossum adriaticum H. Baumann). To do so, first we quantified the reproductive success (fruit set) of the Adriatic Lizard Orchids in a Hungarian population in close proximity to a honeybee apiary at Nagytevel. Then we compared the reproductive success in this population to the reproductive success in 3 other Hungarian, 4 Croatian populations (observed during the same year, 2013) and further 4 populations from Hungary (studied in previous years, 1992–2011) with no apiaries in the close proximity of these. The realised 61.7 % fruit set at Nagytevel is the highest reproductive success ever recorded for this species. The importance of apiaries is further emphasised by the fact that the reproductive success of Lizard Orchid individuals decreased significantly with increasing distance from the apiary. Our results provide empirical support for the conservation importance of apiculture and suggests promising results for practical application of apiaries in the conservation of of deceptively pollinated orchids characterised by lower fruit set (e.g. Orchis, Anacamptis, Himantoglossum).
apiculture, fruit set, Himantoglossum adriaticum, pollination crisis, Orchidaceae