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

Fountain, Michelle T.; Tsiolis, Konstantinos; Silva, Celine X.; Deakin, Greg; Garratt, Michael P.D.; O’Connor, Rory; Carvell, Claire ORCID:; Pywell, Richard F. ORCID:; Edwards, Michael; Potts, Simon G.. 2023 Location and creation of nest sites for ground-nesting bees in apple orchards [in special issue: Monitoring and conservation of pollinators and their ecological interactions] Insects, 14 (6), 490. 15, pp.

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•Simple Summary: Wild, ground-nesting bees are important pollinators of apple. They generally do not fly more than a couple of hundred meters from their nest, yet little is known of their preferred nest locations in apple orchards. This project set out to identify where ground-nesting bees are found in apple orchards, which species are present and what influences where they nest. Most of the bee nests were found in the bare ground underneath the apple trees. This area is normally maintained weed-free using a herbicide or mechanical weeding. In addition, fourteen species of ground-nesting bee were identified in the orchards. Hence, maintaining areas of bare ground in apple orchards during peak nesting times could improve nesting opportunities for ground-nesting bees and potentially improve pollination. •Abstract: 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: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Biodiversity (Science Area 2017-)
ISSN: 2075-4450
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: Open Access paper - full text available via Official URL link.
Additional Keywords: Andrena, blossom, Lasioglossum, Gala, habitat management, insect, pollinator
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Agriculture and Soil Science
Date made live: 08 Nov 2023 08:52 +0 (UTC)

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