5.1.3. Cage visitation rates

Observations on visits to flowers of a crop are sometimes made on plants within cages where bee densities can be controlled and replicated more easily than in fields (e.g. Dedej and Delaplane, 2003); cages often are ca. 2 m3 and constructed of Lumite® (e.g. BioQuip Products; Rancho Dominguez, CA, USA). These tests are useful for gaining insight about the relative impact of bee visitation on the yield response of a crop. The artificial environment within a cage, however, can affect both bee behaviour and plant growth, and this further limits the ability to transfer findings about effects of bee density on crop yield to recommendations about colony stocking rates in normal field situations. Thus cage tests provide only a very general idea of comparative usefulness of different colony densities and are much less useful than studies using small plots or whole fields.