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Location and creation of nest sites for ground-nesting bees in apple orchards

Fountain, M. T. ORCID:, Tsiolis, K., Silva, C. X., Deakin, G. ORCID:, Garratt, M. P. D., O’Connor, R., Carvell, C., Pywell, R. F., Edwards, M. and Potts, S. G. ORCID: (2023) Location and creation of nest sites for ground-nesting bees in apple orchards. Insects, 14 (6). 490. ISSN 2075-4450

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To link to this item DOI: 10.3390/insects14060490


Wild ground-nesting bees are key pollinators of apple (Malus domestica). We explored, (1) where they choose to nest, (2) what influences site selection and (3) species richness in orchards. Twenty-three orchards were studied over three years; twelve were treated with additional herbicide to increase bare ground with the remainder as untreated controls. Vegetation cover, soil type, soil compaction, nest number and location, and species were recorded. Fourteen species of ground-nesting solitary/eusocial bee were identified. Most nests were in areas free of vegetation and areas treated with additional herbicide were utilised by ground nesting bees within three years of application. Nests were also evenly distributed along the vegetation-free strips underneath the apple trees. This area was an important ground-nesting bee habitat with mean numbers of nests at peak nest activity of 873 per ha (range 44–5705), and 1153 per ha (range 0–4082) in 2018 and 2019, respectively. Increasing and maintaining areas of bare ground in apple orchards during peak nesting events could improve nesting opportunities for some species of ground-nesting bee and, combined with flowers strips, be part of a more sustainable pollinator management approach. The area under the tree row is an important contributor to the ground-nesting bee habitat and should be kept bare during peak nesting.

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:112059


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