Maximizing Pollinator Services from Native Bees

Project Overview

Project Type: Partnership
Funds awarded in 2015: $29,964.00
Projected End Date: 09/30/2017
Grant Recipient: University of Minnesota
Region: North Central
State: Minnesota
Project Coordinator:
Dr. Karl Foord
University of Minnesota

Annual Reports


  • Fruits: berries (blueberries)


  • Crop Production: pollinator habitat


    In this field season we visited the four farm sites (we have added one because of the original's lack of pollinators). We placed traps, collected the captured insects, prepared and mounted the specimens. We have focused identification on bees in the genera Bombus and Andrena as they appear to be those bees most involved in pollination of blueberries. We catch other genera in the traps set in the blueberry fields but we do not see them working the flowers. 

    We have identified approximately 20 different Andrena species collected in the traps. We also sampled the field with a vacuum capture apparatus. If we discovered a bee on a blueberry flower we sucked it off the flower. In all three locations and four separate samplings (We sampled one location twice), we consistently found only two species of Andrena on blueberry flowers, Andrena carlini, and A. vicina.  The only thing different about locations was the ratio of the two species. 

    Rather than trap Bombus species we proceeded with visual sampling. We found some 6 species of Bombus in the field locations although they were not present in equal numbers. More detail in following report. 

    We have documented nesting habits of both genera although these species still present challenges for the way they are able to disguise their nest entrances. We have photographic documentation of same. 

    We have a preliminary list of plants to provide forage for the genus Andrena whose life cycle extends several weeks on either side of the blueberry flowering window. Because Bombus is present for the whole growing season and builds significant numbers through their annual hive system, a completely different strategy regarding forage is discussed. 

    This summer we will continue searching for nests and documenting observations regarding nesting. We will also produce two videos this summer. The first two years focused on determining the primary pollinating species, and having determined this, we can proceed with video production. 

    Lastly, the results of this grant study have been presented to three professional audiences. The first is the Upper Midwest Fruit and Vegetable Growers' Conference and the second is the Third Crop Producers Meetings sponsored by Rural Advantage. A presentation was also made to academic professionals as part of the Great Lakes Vegetable Working Group on 2/28/2017.

    In addition results have been included in a series of presentations to non-professional audiences such as master gardeners and attendees at spring horticultural events. To date 6 such presentations have been made and two are scheduled for March and May of this year 2017.

    Project objectives:

    1. Identify the best candidate native bee species to provide pollination services to the fruit and vegetable growers in the region

    2. Determine critical parameters of nesting habitat for these identified species

    3. Develop recommendations for native bee nesting habitat for fruit & vegetable growers

    4. Develop a suggested plant list specific to each crop which will provide forage outside the flowering window of the crop and meet the needs of the identified pollinators

    5. Develop a video demonstrating nesting habitat recommendations
    To be developed and submitted on September 30, 2017

    6. Develop a video demonstrating forage recommendations
    To be developed and submitted on September 30, 2017

    7. Present findings to various audiences


    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.