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Wild bees are less abundant but show better pollination behaviour for sweet cherry than managed pollinators

Mateos‐Fierro, Z. ORCID:, Garratt, M. P. D. ORCID:, Fountain, M. T. ORCID:, Ashbrook, K. ORCID: and Westbury, D. B. ORCID: (2022) Wild bees are less abundant but show better pollination behaviour for sweet cherry than managed pollinators. Journal of Applied Entomology. ISSN 0931-2048

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1111/jen.12984


Pollinating insects provide pollination services to many crop species, including sweet cherry (Prunus avium L.), and this can be delivered by both managed and wild pollinators. Managed pollinators are often used to pollinate a range of fruit crops, but increasingly the role of wild insects is being studied. However, the importance of pollinator species depends on their relative abundance and pollination effectiveness, which depends on their foraging activity and their variability throughout the day. In this study, insect visitors of blossoms were observed in commercial sweet cherry orchards to explore abundance, diversity and pollination foraging behaviour of different insect pollinator groups throughout the day. A total of 1,174 pollinators from 31 different species were recorded visiting cherry blossoms over 2 years, of which 71.0% of total visits were by managed pollinators (western honeybee, Apis mellifera L. and buff-tailed bumblebee, Bombus terrestris L.) compared to 29.0% by wild pollinators. On average, solitary bees visited a sweet cherry blossom for the longest duration (20.7 (±2.0 SE) seconds), whereas wild queen bumblebees visited the greatest number of flowers per minute (mean of 19.0 (±1.3 SE)). As both these pollinator groups contacted cherry stigmas more often and moved more frequently between tree rows than managed bees and hoverflies, they are more likely to facilitate cross-pollination. The different pollinator groups also showed variation in behavioural parameters throughout the day, but less variation was recorded when all pollinator groups were considered altogether. This suggests diverse pollinator communities might be expected to provide a more stable pollination service to sweet cherry. This study demonstrates that whilst cherry blossoms were more frequently visited by managed pollinators, wild solitary bee and bumblebee behaviours are likely to be more effective at enhancing pollination in sweet cherry orchards, which, in turn, might lead to increased yields.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Agriculture, Policy and Development > Department of Sustainable Land Management > Centre for Agri-environmental Research (CAER)
ID Code:103318


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