Native bees, honeybees and pollination in Oregon cranberries (Library Undergraduate Honors Award Paper) Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/undergraduate_thesis_or_projects/s4655h680

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  • Farmers rely almost exclusively on the imported European honeybee (Apis mellifera L.) for fruit and vegetable crop pollination services. The recent decline in honeybee health has underscored he danger of relying on a single species to provide vital services. Increasing pollinator biodiversity with native bees may provide biological insurance against the decline of any particular species. By examining cropping systems, it is possible to determine which native bees are providing pollination services and then augment habitat to increase their numbers or attempt domestication. In this study, we examined the native bee populations in the cranberry growing area of southern coastal Oregon in order to determine if native bees play a significant role in cranberry pollination. This two-year study surveyed four farms across a 22 km north-south gradient. At least 27 bee species were observed during cranberry bloom (mid-May to late June), of which five were observed foraging on the cranberry flowers. The imported European honeybees and bumble bees foraged at comparable wind speeds, Bombus spp. Foraged at significantly lower average temperatures (P<0.0001). Both honeybees and bumble bees collected cranberry pollen while foraging, but 37.2% of honeybees were observed nectar-robbing (collecting nectar but no pollen) versus only 11.3% of bumble bees. Bumble bees in general , and the western yellow-faced bumble bee (Bombus vosnesenskii Randoszkowski) in particular, are abundant native pollinators of cranberry, and may provide adequate pollination for small Oregon cranberry farms. Conservation of bumble bee habitat and development of managed colonies will help maintain pollination services.
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