Cucumber (Cucumis sativus L.) is among the plants highly dependent on insectmediated pollination, but little is known about its unmanaged pollinators. Both domestic and wild bee populations in central Wisconsin pickling cucumber fields were assessed using a combination of pan trapping and floral observations before and during bloom. Together with land cover analyses extending 2,000 m from field centers, the relationship of land cover components and bee abundance and diversity were examined. Over a 2-yr sample interval distributed among 18 experimental sites, 3,185 wild bees were collected representing >60 species. A positive association was found between both noncrop and herbaceous areas with bee abundance and diversity only during bloom. Response of bee abundance and diversity to land cover was strongest at larger buffers presumably because of the heterogeneous nature of the landscape and connectivity between crop and noncrop areas. These results are consistent with previous research that has found a weak response of wild bees to surrounding vegetation in moderately fragmented areas. A diverse community of wild bees is present within the fields of a commercial cucumber system, and there is evidence of floral visitation by unmanaged bees. This evidence emphasizes the importance of wild pollinators in fragmented landscapes and the need for additional research to investigate the effectiveness of individual species in pollen deposition.
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Vol. 41 • No. 3