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      Diversified Farming in a Monoculture Landscape: Effects on Honey Bee Health and Wild Bee Communities

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          In the last century, a global transformation of Earth’s surface has occurred due to human activity with extensive agriculture replacing natural ecosystems. Concomitant declines in wild and managed bees are occurring, largely due to a lack of floral resources and inadequate nutrition, caused by conversion to monoculture-based farming. Diversified fruit and vegetable farms may provide an enhanced variety of resources through crops and weedy plants, which have potential to sustain human and bee nutrition. We hypothesized fruit and vegetable farms can enhance honey bee (Hymenoptera: Apidae, Apis mellifera Linnaeus) colony growth and nutritional state over a soybean monoculture, as well as support a more diverse wild bee community. We tracked honey bee colony growth, nutritional state, and wild bee abundance, richness, and diversity in both farm types. Honey bees kept at diversified farms had increased colony weight and preoverwintering nutritional state. Regardless of colony location, precipitous declines in colony weight occurred during autumn and thus colonies were not completely buffered from the stressors of living in a matrix dominated with monocultures. Contrary to our hypothesis, wild bee diversity was greater in soybean, specifically in August, a time when fields are in bloom. These differences were largely driven by four common bee species that performed well in soybean. Overall, these results suggest fruit and vegetable farms provide some benefits for honey bees; however, they do not benefit wild bee communities. Thus, incorporation of natural habitat, rather than diversified farming, in these landscapes, may be a better choice for wild bee conservation efforts.

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          Most cited references 74

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          Crop pollination from native bees at risk from agricultural intensification.

          Ecosystem services are critical to human survival; in selected cases, maintaining these services provides a powerful argument for conserving biodiversity. Yet, the ecological and economic underpinnings of most services are poorly understood, impeding their conservation and management. For centuries, farmers have imported colonies of European honey bees (Apis mellifera) to fields and orchards for pollination services. These colonies are becoming increasingly scarce, however, because of diseases, pesticides, and other impacts. Native bee communities also provide pollination services, but the amount they provide and how this varies with land management practices are unknown. Here, we document the individual species and aggregate community contributions of native bees to crop pollination, on farms that varied both in their proximity to natural habitat and management type (organic versus conventional). On organic farms near natural habitat, we found that native bee communities could provide full pollination services even for a crop with heavy pollination requirements (e.g., watermelon, Citrullus lanatus), without the intervention of managed honey bees. All other farms, however, experienced greatly reduced diversity and abundance of native bees, resulting in insufficient pollination services from native bees alone. We found that diversity was essential for sustaining the service, because of year-to-year variation in community composition. Continued degradation of the agro-natural landscape will destroy this "free" service, but conservation and restoration of bee habitat are potentially viable economic alternatives for reducing dependence on managed honey bees.
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            The Commonness, And Rarity, of Species

             F. Preston (1948)
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              Landscape effects on crop pollination services: are there general patterns?

              Pollination by bees and other animals increases the size, quality, or stability of harvests for 70% of leading global crops. Because native species pollinate many of these crops effectively, conserving habitats for wild pollinators within agricultural landscapes can help maintain pollination services. Using hierarchical Bayesian techniques, we synthesize the results of 23 studies - representing 16 crops on five continents - to estimate the general relationship between pollination services and distance from natural or semi-natural habitats. We find strong exponential declines in both pollinator richness and native visitation rate. Visitation rate declines more steeply, dropping to half of its maximum at 0.6 km from natural habitat, compared to 1.5 km for richness. Evidence of general decline in fruit and seed set - variables that directly affect yields - is less clear. Visitation rate drops more steeply in tropical compared with temperate regions, and slightly more steeply for social compared with solitary bees. Tropical crops pollinated primarily by social bees may therefore be most susceptible to pollination failure from habitat loss. Quantifying these general relationships can help predict consequences of land use change on pollinator communities and crop productivity, and can inform landscape conservation efforts that balance the needs of native species and people.

                Author and article information

                Role: Subject Editor
                Environ Entomol
                Environ. Entomol
                Environmental Entomology
                Oxford University Press (US )
                June 2020
                04 April 2020
                04 April 2020
                : 49
                : 3
                : 753-764
                [1 ] Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Iowa State University , Ames, IA
                [2 ] Department of Entomology, Iowa State University , Dr. Ames, IA
                [3 ] Department of Entomology, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign , Urbana, IL
                Author notes
                Corresponding author, e-mail: astclair@ 123456iastate.edu
                © The Author(s) 2020. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Entomological Society of America.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/), which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. For commercial re-use, please contact journals.permissions@oup.com

                Page count
                Pages: 12
                Funded by: United Soybean Board, DOI 10.13039/100012009;
                Award ID: 1520-732-7225
                Funded by: Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture;
                Award ID: E2015-06
                Pollinator Ecology and Management

                wild bee, honey bee, apis mellifera, diversified farming


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