Concurrent Session 3B
Wild Native Bees Attracted to Constructed Diverse Agro Ecosystems for Pollination Services
Gordon Frankie, Professor, Dept. of Environmental Science, Policy and Management, UC Berkeley
The goal of our long-term research project is to evaluate the potential role of native bees in providing pollination services to agricultural crops as supplements to honey bees in small Brentwood farms in Northern California. Impetus for conducting this research is related, in part, to Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), which has greatly reduced honey bee populations in the U.S. and elsewhere.
The work supported by this grant represented the first phase of this project. Its goal was to demonstrate that floral habitat could be created within agricultural areas that would attract diverse and abundant native bees from the greater area of Brentwood and vicinity. Major accomplishments include establishment of over 18 acres of native bee habitat, and significant increases in abundance and diversity of native bees on treatment farms. The next phase of our research will be to zero in on specific crop types to determine the best native bee pollinators and the habitats that support them. We have already identified several native bee species visiting habitat plants and the following crop plants: berries (5 varieties), cherries, and apples. Working with our Access database, we can pinpoint their preferred flowers and the kinds of nesting resources needed. Upcoming work will involve constructing habitats with these floral elements and nesting resources in close proximity with the above crop plants with the goal of increasing native bee abundance.