• An on-farm study on the effect of honey bees in onion seed production

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  • 01/04/2016

Auditi Chokrabarti completed her Msc thesis research at the University of Development Alternative (UODA), Dhaka, Bangladesh.


Onion (Allium cepa) is an important spice crop in Bangladesh ranking first in production and second in area among the cultivated spices. At present, the need for a local increase of onion seed production is high, as most seed is imported. Insufficient pollination has caused difficulties in onion seed production. Honeybees are responsible for 70-80% of insect pollination.

Thus, this experimental design was set up to investigate the effect of honey bee vector on seed production of onion in Natore district, a rain-fed area of Bangladesh known for onion production.

The study was conducted on farms participating in SAF-BIN project in Baraigram (Natore district) during the winter season (05/11/2014 to 05/04/2015).There were two types of treatments tested always in comparison with a control on plots of approximately 400² (10 decimal). The treatments were 1) T1: honey bee box was tested in plot A, B, and C and 2) T2: without honey bee box as control plot D. Locally applied farming practices were used[1]. The onion variety Taherpuri, a local cultivar, was used. Data on scape length (cm), scape diameter (cm), scapes/bulb, umbel diameter (cm), flowers/umbel, no. of abortive flowers, bulb weight (g), seed/umbel (g), seed/plant (g) and 1000grain weight (TGW) were recorded. An analysis of Variance (ANOVA) was done.

In treated plots, the tallest main scape height (74±1.4cm), the largest umbel diameter (6.1±0.1cm) and the largest number of aborted flowers (31±2.0) was recorded in plots without honey bee box. The highest weight of TGW (2.8g), yield/plant (1.6g) ans seed yield/ha (0.04t/ha) were recorded on plot with honey bee boxes. A significant, positive effect of honey bees on onion seed production was observed.

The effective implementation of honey bees as vector for onion pollination in onion field could play an important role to increase the seed yield of onion which might help smallholder farmers in Bangladesh to produce their own seed in their own farmland reducing their input costs.

[1] Plowing: 4 times; weed and stubble removal before sowing; spacing bulb to bulb: 15cm, row to row 30cm, irrigation 3 times, weeding once; Fertilization: cowdung: 120kg/400m², 10kg urea, 8kg TSP (Triple superphosphate), 6kg MoP (mureate of potash)