Published source details
Tuell J. K., Fiedler A. K., Landis D. & Isaacs R. (2008) Visitation by wild and managed bees (Hymenoptera : Apoidea) to eastern US native plants for use in conservation programs. Environmental Entomology, 37, 707-718.
Planting flowering species in field margins increases abundance of beneficial insects in crop fields, but non-native annual plants are often recommended for this purpose. This study evaluates flowering species native to the US for their attractiveness to bees, with a view to selecting species most appropriate to plant in field margins.
Forty-three native plant species were grown in 1 m2 plots, 6 m apart, on a grassed former agricultural field in Michigan (northeast USA). All were perennial species, formerly found in eastern oak savannah and prairie, able to grow in the agricultural conditions (full sun, moderate drought) prevailing at the site and with a local genotype available commercially. Five replicate plots of each species were planted in autumn 2003, in a randomized block design.
Flower-visiting bees were vacuum sampled weekly from 4 May to 27 September 2005 between 09:30 and 13:30 h on calm sunny days. Samples analysed for each plant species were taken during the week when the plant had the maximum number of open flowers, one week before and one week after that. Bees were observed for one 5-minute period on each plot during peak bloom, between 10:00 and 17:00 h between 1 June and 17 August 2005. Plants that had five or more bees on average per plot during either sampling method were classed as highly attractive.
A total of 1,357 individuals from 42 species of wild social and solitary bee were identified. The common eastern bumblebee Bombus impatiens comprised 62% of these individuals. Non-native honey bees Apis mellifera were counted separately. All plant species were visited by at least one wild bee visitor during the study. Most were visited at low frequency but nine species proved highly attractive to wild bees: shrubby cinquefoil Potentilla fruticosa, carpenter’s square Scrophularia marilandica, Culver’s root Veronicastrum virginicum, pinnate prairie coneflower Ratibida pinnata, yellow giant hyssop Agastache nepetoides, cup plant Silphium perfoliatum, great blue lobelia Lobelia siphilitica, Ridell’s goldenrod Solidago riddellii and showy goldenrod Solidago speciosa.
In the early season (May to June), when bees are in small numbers but forage sources can be particularly important, wild bees were most abundant in vacuum samples from golden alexanders Zizia aurea, and in timed observations on Virginia strawberry Fragaria virginiana and lanceleaf tickseed Coreopsis lanceolata.
Note: If using or referring to this published study, please read and quote the original paper, this can be viewed at: http://esa.publisher.ingentaconnect.com/content/esa/envent/2008/00000037/00000003/art00012