Providing habitat for native pollinators and determination of native pollinator contribution to pollination of cucurbits and blueberries at farm sites
Flowering crops and beneficial plantings were evaluated for diversity of bee visitation. Comparisons between managed honey bees and wild, native bees are being made per crop to determine if pollination services are being provided from the surrounding landscape. Visitation diversity is differentiating across crops and beneficial flowers. The expected outcome of this work is that it will inform farmers of the benefit from surrounding bee habitat and identification of beneficial flowers that provide food sources for bees they wish to support.
- Determine the contribution of native pollinators and managed honey bees to pollination of various fruit and vegetable crops. Determine species of bees at farms. Determine the best wildflower mix for establishment of semi-permanent wildflower meadow. Determine if and how much flower plantings and nesting structures are utilized by native/wild pollinators. Determine if native pollinator visits to squash flowers can be increased by planting wild flowers and providing nesting structures. –-unable to determine- Determine factors that affect pollinator density and diversity. Develop and distribute extension fact sheets, a web site, and publication articles about the importance and contribution of native pollinators in crop systems and recommendations for their conservation and encouragement.
Data has been collected, covering 2 years, 13 locations, 9 crop flowers, a number of beneficial flowers, and 2 wild growing flowers. At each location, 1-7 transects were walked for flower observations. These observations lasted about 10 minutes per transect, but varies. Within one location, between 1 and 7 different crops were observed. The same crop, or flower types, are observed across different locations as well. In this way, flower types can be compared between and within locations. Within a single day at any one location, multiple ‘time blocks’ were created to account for effects of time of day on flower observations. Bees observed on flowers within transect are identified visually within 11 different bee type categories. At farms, 650 bees have bee collected to better describe the specific genus and species possible within the 11 bee type categories. Counts of flowers along observation transects, where also conducted, where possible, to make comparisons of bees per flower across the same flower type at different times and/or locations. Between now and the close of the project, the 650 bees will need to be identified. Data is being transferred from data sheets to a database for statistical analysis. Results need to be written up, with extension materials based on the results of the data. Beneficial flower plots, based on the performance of plantings in this project, will be established spring 2010 for a multi-year, long-term demonstration of farmscaping at UT’s East Tennessee Research and Education Center, Organic Crops Unit.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
The expected outcome of this work is to inform farmers of the benefit from surrounding bee habitat and identification of beneficial flowers that provide food sources for bees they wish to support. Preliminary analysis of the data indicates that native bees are providing very high levels of visitation to commercial crops. This pollination is provided free of charge. As landscapes in the southeast region become more developed, farmers, landowners, gardeners, and community planners should consider the economic benefit of pollination that comes from the surrounding habitat. Information about specific types of bees differentiating across different types of flowers should inform the public of the rich diversity in bees and recognition that various strategies for habitat preservation and enhancement should be considered. Different types of beneficial flowers are needed to provide food for the diversity of bees. Different nesting habitats too are needed for the diversity of soil, twig, and cavity nesting bees identified in this study.
225 RIVERVIEW CHURCH ROAD
Bean Station, TN 37708
Blueberry Hill Farm
101 Reservoir Rd
Norris, TN 37828
The Fruit and Berry Patch
4407 McCloud Rd.
Knoxville, TN 37938
Blueberries on the Buffalo Farm
78 Cemetery Road
Lawrenceburg, TN 38464
Office Phone: 9319644578