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To put it another way, are high bee densities really an advantage to the growers in terms of seed yield? If so, this implies that there is a tradeoff between seed yields and bee yields, something that Bill Stephen at OSU proposed in 1981. Can we better predict how many bees are needed in a field by understanding the dynamics of flower resources available to the bees? The alleged advantage of large bee populations is not just an increase in pollination, it can also mean an increase in the quality of pollination (e.g., more cross-pollinated than self-pollinated seed), and a decrease in pest damage. Pest damage is reduced if pollination reduces floral resources available to pests, or increases the rate at which susceptible floral stages mature to unsusceptible stages. These are practical questions with important implications for the alfalfa seed industry.

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