Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Attracting wild bees to farms is good insurance policy

Date:
April 3, 2014
Source:
Michigan State University
Summary:
Investing in habitat that attracts and supports wild bees in farms is not only an effective approach to helping enhance crop pollination, but it can also pay for itself in four years or less, according to research. The paper gives farmers of pollination-dependent crops tangible results to convert marginal acreage to fields of wildflowers.

Inviting more wild bees to farmland is not only sustainable, but it also will pay for itself in four years or less.
Credit: Rufus Isaacs

Investing in habitat that attracts and supports wild bees in farms is not only an effective approach to helping enhance crop pollination, but it can also pay for itself in four years or less, according to Michigan State University research.

The paper, published in the current issue of the Journal of Applied Ecology, gives farmers of pollination-dependent crops tangible results to convert marginal acreage to fields of wildflowers, said Rufus Isaacs, MSU entomologist and co-author of the paper.

"Other studies have demonstrated that creating flowering habitat will attract wild bees, and a few have shown that this can increase yields," he said. "This is the first paper that demonstrates an economic advantage. This gives us a strong argument to present to farmers that this method works, and it puts money back in their pockets."

As part of the study, marginal lands surrounding productive blueberry fields were planted with a mix of 15 native perennial wildflowers. The fields were pollinated by honey bees, but Isaacs and Brett Blaauw, MSU graduate student, were interested in whether increasing the wild bee population would improve pollination in nearby crop fields. The results weren't immediate, which implies that landowners would need to be patient, Isaacs said.

"In the first two years as the plantings established, we found little to no increase in the number of wild bees," he said. "After that, though, the number of wild bees was twice as high as those found in our control fields that had no habitat improvements."

Once the wild bees were more abundant, more flowers turned into blueberries, and the blueberries had more seeds and were larger. Based on the results, a two-acre field planted with wildflowers adjacent to a 10-acre field of blueberries boosted yields by 10-20 percent. This translated into more revenue from the field, which can recoup the money from planting wildflowers.

With 420 species of wild bees in Michigan alone, it makes sense to attract as many free pollinators as possible. However, this doesn't mean that this approach would replace honey bees, which are trucked in via beekeepers and pollinate crops valued at $14 billion nationwide, Isaacs said.

"Honey bees do a great job of pollinating blueberries, and we're not suggesting that growers stop using them," he said. "But, our research shows that adding some wild bee habitat to the farm can increase bee abundance in the nearby crop, can be profitable and is an insurance policy to make sure there is good pollination each year."

Establishing habitat for wild bees requires an initial investment, but there are existing federal and statewide programs, such as the USDA's Conservation Reserve Program and Michigan's State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement, to help pay for this. In such cases, growers could see their return on investment even quicker.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Michigan State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Brett R. Blaauw, Rufus Isaacs. Flower plantings increase wild bee abundance and the pollination services provided to a pollination-dependent crop. Journal of Applied Ecology, 2014; DOI: 10.1111/1365-2664.12257

Cite This Page:

Michigan State University. "Attracting wild bees to farms is good insurance policy." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 April 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140403105816.htm>.
Michigan State University. (2014, April 3). Attracting wild bees to farms is good insurance policy. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140403105816.htm
Michigan State University. "Attracting wild bees to farms is good insurance policy." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140403105816.htm (accessed September 22, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Monday, September 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: San Diego Zoo Welcomes Cheetah Cubs

Raw: San Diego Zoo Welcomes Cheetah Cubs

AP (Sep. 20, 2014) The San Diego Zoo has welcomed two Cheetah cubs to its Safari Park. The nearly three-week-old female cubs are being hand fed and are receiving around the clock care. (Sept. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Chocolate Museum Opens in Brussels

Chocolate Museum Opens in Brussels

AFP (Sep. 19, 2014) Considered a "national heritage" in Belgium, chocolate now has a new museum in Brussels. In a former chocolate factory, visitors to the permanent exhibition spaces, workshops and tastings can discover derivatives of the cocoa bean. Duration: 01:00 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) The study found elderly people are much more likely to become susceptible to infection than younger adults going though a similar situation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

AP (Sep. 19, 2014) A federal jury has convicted three people in connection with an outbreak of salmonella poisoning five years ago that sickened hundreds of people and was linked to a number of deaths. (Sept. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins