Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Honey bee (Apis mellifera) colonies benefit from grassland/ pasture while bumble bee (Bombus impatiens) colonies in the same landscapes benefit from non-corn/soybean cropland

September 20, 2021

Agriculturally important commercially managed pollinators including honey bees (Apis mellifera L., 1758) and bumble bees (Bombus impatiens Cresson, 1863) rely on the surrounding landscape to fulfill their dietary needs. A previous study in Europe demonstrated that managed honey bee foragers and unmanaged native bumble bee foragers are associated with different land uses. However, it is unclear how response to land use compares between managed honey bees and a managed native bumble bee species in the United States, where honey bees are an imported species. Furthermore, to our knowledge, no such direct comparisons of bee responses to land use have been made at the colony level. To better understand how two different social bees respond to variation in land use, we monitored the weights of A. mellifera and B. impatiens colonies placed in 12 apiaries across a range of land use in Michigan, United States in 2017. Bombus impatiens colonies gained more weight and produced more drones when surrounded by diverse agricultural land (i.e., non-corn/soybean cropland such as tree fruits and grapes), while honey bee colonies gained more weight when surrounded by more grassland/pasture land. These findings add to our understanding of how different bee species respond to agricultural landscapes, highlighting the need for further species-specific land use studies to inform tailored land management.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2021
Title Honey bee (Apis mellifera) colonies benefit from grassland/ pasture while bumble bee (Bombus impatiens) colonies in the same landscapes benefit from non-corn/soybean cropland
DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0257701
Authors Gabriela Quinlan, Megan Milbrath, Clint R. V. Otto, Rufus Isaacs
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title PLoS ONE
Series Number
Index ID 70229187
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center