- Habitat restoration to promote wild pollinator populations is becoming increasingly common in agricultural lands. Yet, little is known about how wild bees, globally the most important wild pollinators, use resources in restored habitats. We compared bee use of native and exotic plants in two types of restored native plant hedgerows: mature hedgerows (>10 years from establishment) designed for natural enemy enhancement and new hedgerows (years from establishment) designed to enhance bee populations. Bees were collected from flowers using timed aerial netting and flowering plant cover was estimated by species using cover classes. At mature hedgerow sites, wild bee abundance, richness, and diversity were greater on native plants than exotic plants. At new sites, where native plants were small and had limited floral display, abundance of bees was greater on native plants than exotic plants; but, controlling for floral cover, there was no difference in bee diversity and richness between the two plant types. At both mature and new hedgerows, wild bees preferred to forage from native plants than exotic plants. Honey bees, which were from managed colonies, also preferred native plants at mature hedgerow sites but exhibited no preference at new sites. Our study shows that wild bees, and managed bees in some cases, prefer to forage on native plants in hedgerows over co-occurring weedy, exotic plants. Semi-quantitative ranking identified which native plants were most preferred. Hedgerow restoration with native plants may help enhance wild bee abundance and diversity, and maintain honey bee health, in agricultural areas.
A blog that will gradually post the results of a study of the bees found by refuge biologists and volunteers using bee bowls traps on USFWS Region 5 National Wildlife Refuges in the Northeastern United States.
Thursday, February 21, 2013
Morandin, L. A. and C. Kremen (2013). "Bee preference for native versus exotic plants in restored agricultural hedgerows." Restoration Ecology 21(1): 26-32.