Developing New Osmia Species for Commercial Management and Pollination Diversification

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional + Producer
Funds awarded in 2024: $75,000.00
Projected End Date: 03/31/2026
Grant Recipients: USDA ARS; Utah State University
Region: Western
State: Utah
Principal Investigator:
Kimball Clark
Scott Pohlschneider
Stahlbush Island Farm
Mervin Weeks
Weeks Berries of Paradise


  • Fruits: berries (blueberries), berries (other)
  • Animals: bees


  • Crop Production: pollination
  • Education and Training: farmer to farmer, on-farm/ranch research

    Proposal abstract:

    The mason bee (Osmia) industry remains small compared to
    other managed bee industries (i.e. honey bees, bumble bees, and
    alfalfa leafcutting bees). A major limiting factor of industry
    growth is slow bee propagation and having only a small set of
    target crops (primarily orchard crops). By expanding the number
    of managed mason bee species targeting specific crops that would
    benefit from diversified pollination (e.g. berry crops), we can
    open new crop markets for bee producers, and help alleviate
    pollination deficits for growers. Managed bee population growth
    also needs to be more sustainable. One primary issue facing the
    industry is unintended negative consequences on wild bee
    populations through extractive harvesting of mason bees from wild
    populations. We need to develop more sustainable ways of
    propagating bees, either on farms or in other landscapes, that
    reduce impacts to wild populations. Here, we will test management
    strategies for bee propagation of two newly managed
    Osmia species targeted for berry crop pollination
    (O. ribifloris and O. bruneri). This will
    include propagation efforts along an urban-wildland gradient
    through collaboration with community members, and propagation on
    commercial berry farms. With the aim of building up already
    managed populations, instead of harvesting from wild bee
    populations. Outcomes of this work include sustainable bee
    management recommendations for bee producers and early testing of
    two newly managed bee species for berry crop pollination.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Research Objective 1: Develop strategies for farming
    Osmia ribifloris and O. bruneri to increase
    propagation while reducing extractive pressures on local bee

    Research Objective 2: Test the use of O. ribifloris
    and O. bruneri as managed pollinators at commercial berry

    Education Objective 1: Develop a community outreach
    program to both increase community member involvement in bee
    propagation strategies and community education about solitary

    Education Objective 2: Facilitate Farmer-to-Farmer
    educational outreach days to educate peers about the use of
    Osmia bees for crop pollination.

    Education Objective 3: Create technical publications on
    the use of Osmia ribifloris and O. bruneri for crop
    pollination, and best management practices.

    Education Objective 4: Create hands on video
    demonstrations of Osmia management techniques, available
    for free online.

    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.