Complementary and competitive interactions between wild and managed bees

A diversity of native bee species inhabit agricultural and urban landscapes and can be more effective pollinators than the widely employed European honey bee. However, honey and wild bee communities often overlap, which means these bees compete for the same floral resources. Studies of competition between wild and managed pollinators are limited due to methodological constraints. This restricts our ability to predict how pollination and bee diversity will be affected by changes in pollinator community composition. The overall objective of this project is to assess the influence of honey bee density on native bee diversity and pollination across agricultural and urban systems. First, I will determine the optimal number of native and managed bees for crop pollination and production in apple agroecosystems, using an innovative pollination measurement technique and bee diversity experiments. Second, I will assess the effect of honey bee overpopulation on native bee diversity in urban settings, using bee diversity surveys conducted before and after an influx of honey bees to the Island of Montréal. The results of this work will provide the empirical data needed to create alternative crop pollination plans, and form evidence-based beekeeping regulations that are supportive of wild pollinator conservation in crops and cities.

Intern: 
Gail MacInnis
Faculty Supervisor: 
Carly Ziter
Province: 
Quebec
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