by Katie Navarra
Honey bees are the most widely known pollinator species. However, recent research shows there are numerous pollinator species and that the more diverse the species the increased pollination benefits. “There are thousands of bee species, some are solitary, some nest in the ground, others in twigs and trees,” explained David Crowder, Assistant Professor of Entomology at Washington State University.
During an eOrganic webinar, Crowder and Elias Bloom, a Ph.D. student in Entomology working in Crowder’s lab, discussed the diversity of native bees in farming systems and the roles they may play in supplement or replacing honey bees for pollination services.
“The decline of bees is a major issue globally,” Crowder added. Protecting all pollinators, including wild bees, is like providing insurance against the loss of honey bees. “If anything happens to honey bees or another species, when a rich, diverse population is present, it offsets the decrease in population,” he added.
Though findings from experimental tests are limited, the available studies suggest that as the number of pollinator species increases, seed production is also greater. “Only when there were up to 9 or 10 bee species is the efficiency similar to that of manual pollinating,” he said. [Read more…]