Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Floral resource selection by wild bees and honey bees in the Midwest United States: Implications for designing pollinator habitat

May 28, 2021

Many seed mix recommendations for creating pollinator habitat are in part based on anecdotal evidence or field observations of bees visiting forbs (i.e. use). However, there is limited information on what forbs are preferred by bees, particularly in working landscapes where bee forage may be limited. We examined floral resource selection by wild bees and honey bees on grasslands in the Midwest using a 5-year dataset containing over 8,000 plant-bee interactions. We observed wild bees visiting 83 forb species, but only 14 species were significantly selected (i.e. bees visited a plant more than expected based on availability). Approximately 70% of all wild bee visitations were on native flowers, whereas only 20% of all honey bee visitations were on natives. Honey bees visited 70 forb species, but only four forbs were significantly selected. The selection ratio for each forb species was not correlated with proportion of use by wild bees or honey bees, suggesting that bee visitation data alone do not elucidate patterns of forb selection or avoidance. We then compared our resource selection results to forbs recommended by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for regional pollinator habitat plantings. Many forbs that were selected by bees in our study were also recommended by USDA; however, some USDA-recommended forbs were selected against by bees. A greater understanding of which floral resources are selected by bees can assist land managers in assessing conservation seed mixes and ultimately provide diverse, season-long pollinator forage in working landscapes.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2021
Title Floral resource selection by wild bees and honey bees in the Midwest United States: Implications for designing pollinator habitat
DOI 10.1111/rec.13456
Authors Stacy Simanonok, Clint R. V. Otto, Deborah A. Buhl
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Restoration Ecology
Series Number
Index ID 70226594
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center