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Identifying physical characteristics and functional traits of forbs preferred or highly visited by bees in the Prairie Pothole Region

January 3, 2023

Establishing and enhancing pollinator habitat to support declining bee populations is a national goal within the United States. Pollinator habitat is often created through incentive-based conservation programs, and the inclusion of cost-effective forbs within the habitat design is a critical component of such programs. U.S. Geological Survey research from 2015 to 2019 identified forb species that (1) were preferred or highly visited by bees, (2) demonstrated high rates of establishment success, and (3) could be purchased at reduced cost. In this report, we enhance this past research by identifying common physical characteristics and functional traits of these cost-effective forbs so that land managers may have easy access to information on cost-effective forbs for new conservation plantings. This report highlights 22 forb species that were preferred and (or) highly visited by honey bees (Apis mellifera Linnaeus) or wild bees. Of the species evaluated for cost-effectiveness, most had less than average seed cost and greater than average apparent establishment rates. Several forb species were not considered cost effective because of bee avoidance, poor establishment, or high seed cost. Most forbs preferred or highly visited by bees were from the Asteraceae family and demonstrated a wide range of flower color. Forb species represented a range of wetland statuses from facultative wetland to upland, indicating that wetland and nonwetland habitat types represent areas where important floral resources for bees exist. Many forb species were in bloom from June to September, but our results showcase forb species that could be used in conservation projects seeking early- (June–July) or late-season (August–September) floral resources for pollinators.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2023
Title Identifying physical characteristics and functional traits of forbs preferred or highly visited by bees in the Prairie Pothole Region
DOI 10.3133/ofr20221114
Authors Stacy C. Simanonok, Clint R.V. Otto
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Open-File Report
Series Number 2022-1114
Index ID ofr20221114
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

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