During 1998–2003, we used populations of the solitary bee Osmia lignaria Say to pollinate a commercial sweet cherry orchard in northern Utah. Bee densities released each year ranged from 1290 to 1857 females/ha, with approximately twice as many males. Female progeny produced each year were greater than parental populations released, except in 2003, when nesting was poor due to bird predation. Despite poor weather during bloom, and in contrast to most other local producers, the study orchard produced harvestable crops in 1999 (2,964 kg/ha) and 2001 (3,154 kg/ha). In 1998 and 2000, record yields were obtained (10,625 and 12,096 kg/ha, respectively). Including only those years with harvestable crops, average production was 2.2 times higher in 1998–2003 (when O. lignaria populations were used) compared with 1992–1997 (when 10 Apis mellifera hives were used). This is the first study reporting multiyear cherry yields in an orchard pollinated with O. lignaria in North America.
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Vol. 99 • No. 2