Bee pheromones increase pollination and carrot seed yields

A honey bee pollinates a carrot flower in Jefferson County, Oregon.

Carrots, onions and parsley don’t produce the quantity and quality of pollen and nectar that attract honey bees. Yet Oregon vegetable seed producers rely on the pollinators to keep their $31 million industry buzzing along.

So scientists at OSU’s Central Oregon Agricultural Research Center in Madras introduced artificial larval pheromones to hives to make bees sense there is a large brood of larvae that needs feeding. This motivates the hive to forage intensely for pollen and nectar. That increases their flower visitations in vegetable seed crops.

OSU found that pollination increased, and yields in carrot seed crops increased 15 percent. Researchers expect similar results in other crops they're studying such as blueberries and pear.

To learn more, watch a video on OSU's efforts to improve pollination and the health of bees.