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29 May 2021 Blueberry Yields Increase With Bee Visitation Rates, but Bee Visitation Rates are not Consistently Predicted by Colony Stocking Densities
Rachel Mallinger, John J. Ternest, Shiala Morales Naranjo
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Pollinator-dependent crops rely on the activity of managed and wild pollinators. While farm management and surrounding landscape can influence wild pollinator contributions, managed pollinator contributions may be primarily driven by their stocking densities, though this is not well studied across crops. We selected 20 southern highbush blueberry farms along two independent gradients of honey bee Apis mellifera L. (Hymenoptera: Apidae) stocking density (∼1–11 hives/acre) and bumble bee Bombus impatiens Cresson (Hymenoptera: Apidae) stocking density (0 - 3 colonies/acre) ensuring that stocking densities were not correlated with farm or landscape attributes. Across farms, we observed managed and wild bee visitation rates, and measured yield estimates. Farms with greater bumble bee stocking densities had higher bumble bee visitation rates and yield estimates, but farms with higher honey bee stocking densities only received higher honey bee visitation rates at the end of bloom and did not have higher yield estimates. The main wild pollinator, the southeastern blueberry bee Habropoda laboriosa (Fabricius) (Hymenoptera: Apidae), showed higher visitation rates on organic farms and in late bloom. In general, higher visitation rates by honey bees, bumble bees, and H. laboriosa were correlated with higher yields. Our results suggest that yields are limited by bee visitation rates, and that within the stocking density ranges studied, increasing managed bumble bees, but not honey bees, increases their visitation rates. While H. laboriosa had the greatest effect on yield estimates, its activity appears to be limited by both a phenological mismatch with crop bloom and farm management.

© The Author(s) 2021. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Entomological Society of America. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail:
Rachel Mallinger, John J. Ternest, and Shiala Morales Naranjo "Blueberry Yields Increase With Bee Visitation Rates, but Bee Visitation Rates are not Consistently Predicted by Colony Stocking Densities," Journal of Economic Entomology 114(4), 1441-1451, (29 May 2021).
Received: 17 December 2020; Accepted: 10 May 2021; Published: 29 May 2021

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