Honeybees aren’t good enough

Overall, wild insects pollinated crops more effectively, because increase in their visitation enhanced fruit set by twice as much as an equivalent increase in honey bee visitation. Further, visitation by wild insects and honey bees promoted fruit set independently, so high abundance of managed honey bees supplemented, rather than substituted for, pollination by wild insects. Our results suggest that new practices for integrated management of both honey bees and diverse wild-insect assemblages will enhance global crop yields.

Extracted from the abstract of  Wild Pollinators Enhance Fruit Set of Crops Regardless of Honey Bee Abundance (http://www.sciencemag.org/content/early/2013/02/27/science.1230200.full.pdf)

This short article, written by over 30 scientists, definitely summarizes everything that I’ve been reading about bees as pollinators for agricultural crops. Some of the main points are:

1- Wild-insect and honey bee visitation enhances pollen deposition on stigmas of flowers (i.e. pollination)

2- Fruit production post-pollination by wild bees is much more likely than fruit production post honeybee visitation. (i.e. wild insects are better pollinators than honeybees)

3- Pollination services of honeybees supplement pollination services of wild insects, but cannot replace it.

4- Increasing wild bee species richness results in higher flower visitation.

5- Agricultural intensification reduces wild insect species richness & flower visitation

So, the take home message is: Increase research efforts to attract and maintain wild pollinators in agricultural areas, since pollination services by honeybees are not as reliable and efficient as those of wild pollinators.

You should read it!

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2 responses to “Honeybees aren’t good enough

  1. Interesting information. Now I have some research to back up what I have been telling the farmers that I have been talking to recently concerning the benefits of insects.

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