Data from: Limited phenological and dietary overlap between bee communities in spring flowering crops and herbaceous enhancements.
Wood, Thomas J. et al. (2018), Data from: Limited phenological and dietary overlap between bee communities in spring flowering crops and herbaceous enhancements., Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.hj6f109
Wild bee populations have undergone declines in recent years across much of the Western world, and these declines have the potential to limit yield in pollination-dependent crops. Highbush blueberry, Vaccinium corymbosum, and tart cherry, Prunus cerasus, are spring-blooming crops that rely on the movement of pollen by bees and other insects for pollination. Wild bee populations can be increased on farmland by providing floral resources, but whether the addition of these plants translates into increased pollinator density on crop flowers has not been documented in most cropping systems. To determine the importance of providing additional floral resources for wild bee pollinator communities, we selected blueberry fields and tart cherry orchards with and without herbaceous floral enhancements in western Michigan, USA. The bee communities visiting crop flowers, enhancements and control grassy field margins were sampled over a five-year period. In addition, the pollen diets of the most abundant wild bee crop pollinators were quantified across Michigan to better understand their foraging niches and to identify potentially important alternative host plants. The presence of floral enhancements did not increase the abundance of wild bees on either blueberry or cherry flowers during bloom. The bee community visiting blueberry was evenly composed of short-season bees that fly only during the spring and long-season bees that fly in both spring and summer. In contrast, the bee community visiting cherry was dominated by short-season spring bees. The majority of pollen collected by the wild bee communities visiting blueberry and cherry was from spring-flowering woody plants, with limited use of the herbaceous enhancements. Enhancements attracted greater abundance and species richness of bees compared to control areas, including twice as many floral specialists. Conserving summer-flying, grassland associated bees is an appropriate goal for pollinator conservation programs. However, herbaceous enhancements may not provide adequate resources for the wild bees that pollinate spring-flowering crops. This study demonstrates that an examination of the pollen collected by wild bees across their flight periods can identify plant species to help them persist in intensively managed landscapes.