Environmental Chemistry Letters

, Volume 11, Issue 4, pp 335–341 | Cite as

Higher soybean production using honeybee and wild pollinators, a sustainable alternative to pesticides and autopollination

  • Marcelo de O. Milfont
  • Epifania Emanuela M. Rocha
  • Afonso Odério N. Lima
  • Breno M. Freitas
Original Paper


This is the first report showing that using honeybee (Apis mellifera) and wild pollinators complementary pollination can enhance soybean productivity (Glycine max). Current industrial production of soybean involves autopollination and high loads of pesticides. Therefore, growers have neglected possible biotic pollination despite suggestions that soybean benefit from insect pollinators. Reports advocating possible biotic pollination are based on experiments where bees are caged with flowering plants and the absence of pesticides, thus not in field conditions. Therefore, here we compared in field conditions soybean yield produced (1) independently of biotic pollinators, (2) with wild pollinators and (3) with honeybee colonies. Results showed an increase of +6.34 % of soybean yield in areas where wild pollinators had free access to flowers. The introduction of honeybee colonies further raised the yield of +18.09 %. Our findings therefore show that, though soybean is autogamous, allowing pollination by wild pollinators leads to higher yields. Moreover, adding honeybee mitigates pollination deficits and improves yield compared to current practices.


Apis mellifera Biotic pollination Pesticides Crop pollination Crop productivity Glycine max Native pollinators Pollination deficit Supplementary pollination Yield increment 



Authors thank Faedo Sementes for permission to carry out this study in its soybean plantations, Altamira Apícola for lending the honeybee colonies, David R. Rocha for processing the figures of this article and the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development—CNPq, Brasília-Brazil for the D.Sc. scholarship to M.O. Milfont and the research fellowship to B.M. Freitas (proc. # #305062/2007-7).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marcelo de O. Milfont
    • 1
  • Epifania Emanuela M. Rocha
    • 1
  • Afonso Odério N. Lima
    • 1
  • Breno M. Freitas
    • 1
  1. 1.Departamento de Zootecnia, CCA, Campus Universitário do PiciUniversidade Federal do Ceará-UFCFortalezaBrazil

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