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      ‘Bee Hotels’ as Tools for Native Pollinator Conservation: A Premature Verdict?

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          Society is increasingly concerned with declining wild bee populations. Although most bees nest in the ground, considerable effort has centered on installing ‘bee hotels’—also known as nest boxes or trap nests—which artificially aggregate nest sites of above ground nesting bees. Campaigns to ‘save the bees’ often promote these devices despite the absence of data indicating they have a positive effect. From a survey of almost 600 bee hotels set up over a period of three years in Toronto, Canada, introduced bees nested at 32.9% of sites and represented 24.6% of more than 27,000 total bees and wasps recorded (47.1% of all bees recorded). Native bees were parasitized more than introduced bees and females of introduced bee species provisioned nests with significantly more female larva each year. Native wasps were significantly more abundant than both native and introduced bees and occupied almost 3/4 of all bee hotels each year; further, introduced wasps were the only group to significantly increase in relative abundance year over year. More research is needed to elucidate the potential pitfalls and benefits of using bee hotels in the conservation and population dynamics of wild native bees.

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          Most cited references 6

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          Stability of pollination services decreases with isolation from natural areas despite honey bee visits.

          Sustainable agricultural landscapes by definition provide high magnitude and stability of ecosystem services, biodiversity and crop productivity. However, few studies have considered landscape effects on the stability of ecosystem services. We tested whether isolation from florally diverse natural and semi-natural areas reduces the spatial and temporal stability of flower-visitor richness and pollination services in crop fields. We synthesised data from 29 studies with contrasting biomes, crop species and pollinator communities. Stability of flower-visitor richness, visitation rate (all insects except honey bees) and fruit set all decreased with distance from natural areas. At 1 km from adjacent natural areas, spatial stability decreased by 25, 16 and 9% for richness, visitation and fruit set, respectively, while temporal stability decreased by 39% for richness and 13% for visitation. Mean richness, visitation and fruit set also decreased with isolation, by 34, 27 and 16% at 1 km respectively. In contrast, honey bee visitation did not change with isolation and represented > 25% of crop visits in 21 studies. Therefore, wild pollinators are relevant for crop productivity and stability even when honey bees are abundant. Policies to preserve and restore natural areas in agricultural landscapes should enhance levels and reliability of pollination services. © 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd/CNRS.
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            The alfalfa leafcutting bee, Megachile rotundata: the world's most intensively managed solitary bee.

            The alfalfa leafcutting bee (ALCB), Megachile rotundata F. (Megachildae), was accidentally introduced into the United States by the 1940s. Nest management of this Eurasian nonsocial pollinator transformed the alfalfa seed industry in North America, tripling seed production. The most common ALCB management practice is the loose cell system, in which cocooned bees are removed from nesting cavities for cleaning and storage. Traits of ALCBs that favored their commercialization include gregarious nesting; use of leaves for lining nests; ready acceptance of affordable, mass-produced nesting materials; alfalfa pollination efficacy; and emergence synchrony with alfalfa bloom. The ALCB became a commercial success because much of its natural history was understood, targeted research was pursued, and producer ingenuity was encouraged. The ALCB presents a model system for commercializing other solitary bees and for advancing new testable hypotheses in diverse biological disciplines.
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              Developing and establishing bee species as crop pollinators: the example of Osmia spp. (Hymenoptera: Megachilidae) and fruit trees.

              The development of a bee species as a new crop pollinator starts with the identification of a pollination-limited crop production deficit and the selection of one or more candidate pollinator species. The process continues with a series of studies on the developmental biology, pollinating efficacy, nesting behaviour, preference for different nesting substrates, and population dynamics of the candidate pollinator. Parallel studies investigate the biology of parasites, predators and pathogens. The information gained in these studies is combined with information on the reproductive biology of the crop to design a management system. Complete management systems should provide guidelines on rearing and releasing methods, bee densities required for adequate pollination, nesting materials, and control against parasites, predators and pathogens. Management systems should also provide methods to ensure a reliable pollinator supply. Pilot tests on a commercial scale are then conducted to test and eventually refine the management system. The process culminates with the delivery of a viable system to manage and sustain the new pollinator on a commercial scale. The process is illustrated by the development of three mason bees, Osmia cornifrons (Radoszkowski), O. lignaria Say and O. cornuta (Latreille) as orchard pollinators in Japan, the USA and Europe, respectively.

                Author and article information

                Role: Academic Editor
                PLoS One
                PLoS ONE
                PLoS ONE
                Public Library of Science (San Francisco, CA USA )
                18 March 2015
                : 10
                : 3
                Biology Department, York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
                Universidade de São Paulo, Faculdade de Filosofia Ciências e Letras de Ribeirão Preto, BRAZIL
                Author notes

                Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

                Conceived and designed the experiments: JSM LP. Performed the experiments: JSM. Analyzed the data: JSM. Contributed reagents/materials/analysis tools: JSM. Wrote the paper: JSM LP.


                This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited

                Page count
                Figures: 5, Tables: 1, Pages: 13
                JSM received funding from a Natural Science and Engineering Council of Canada (CGS D 408565) ( http://www.nserc-crsng.gc.ca/index_eng.asp). LP received funding from a Natural Science and Engineering Council of Canada Discovery Grant ( http://www.nserc-crsng.gc.ca/index_eng.asp). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
                Research Article
                Custom metadata
                Data cannot be made publicly available due to ethical restrictions that protect the privacy of the bee hotel owners. Data are available upon request by contacting jsmacivor@ 123456gmail.com.



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