How efficient are honey bees as pollinators?

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Honeybees are celebrated as efficient plant pollinators, however simply how efficient are they? Newly printed UC Davis analysis within the American Journal of Botany yields some stunning outcomes.

Honeybees are efficient pollinators, however when in comparison with different pollinators, together with wild bees, they’re not often the best plant pollinators, in response to a meta-analysis venture led by doctoral candidate Maureen Page and postdoctoral researcher Charlie Casey Nicholson of the Neal Williams laboratory, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.

Page and Nicholson are the co-leading authors of “A Meta-Analysis of Single Visit Pollination Effectiveness Comparing Honeybees and Other Floral Visitors,” the quilt story of the present version of the journal, printed Nov. 30.

“Although high visitation frequencies make honeybees important pollinators, they were rarely the most effective pollinators of plants and were less effective than the average bee,” mentioned Page. “This suggests that honeybees may be imperfect substitutes for the loss of wild pollinators and ensuring pollination will benefit from conservation of non-honeybee taxa. In the future, we hope other researchers will use the data we have collected to further investigate the factors that influence pollination effectiveness.”

Page and Nicholson originated the concept for the venture throughout a graduate seminar led by UC Davis professor and neighborhood ecologist Louie Yang within the winter of 2020. While the COVID-19 pandemic shut down or postponed many different analysis initiatives, Page and Nicholson cast forward and arranged fellow graduate college students and postdoctoral college students to collectively learn and extract single visit-effectiveness information from greater than 468 papers. The two then analyzed the info from a subset of those papers (168) to ask whether or not honeybees and different floral guests differed of their single go to pollination effectiveness.

Page and Nicholson started with the premise: “Many animals provide ecosystem services in the form of pollination including honeybees, which have become globally dominant floral visitors. A rich literature documents considerable variation in single visit pollination effectiveness, but this literature has yet to be extensively synthesized to address whether honeybees are effective pollinators,”

The researchers carried out a hierarchical meta-analysis of 168 research and extracted 1564 single go to effectiveness (SVE) measures for 240 plant species. “We paired SVE data with visitation frequency data for 69 of these studies,” they wrote. “We used these data to ask three questions: (1) Do honeybees (Apis mellifera) and other floral visitors differ in their SVE? (2) To what extent do plant and pollinator attributes predict differences in SVE between honeybees and other visitors? (3) Is there a correlation between visitation frequency and SVE?”

They in contrast honeybees to a number of pollinator teams, together with ants, bees, beetles, birds, butterflies, flies, moths and wasps.

“Surprisingly, honeybees were less effective than other bees as pollinators of crop plants, suggesting that the importance of honeybees as crop pollinators derives largely from their numerical abundance rather than the quality of their floral visits,” Page mentioned.

“Honeybees were significantly less effective than the most effective non-honeybee pollinators but were as effective as the average pollinator,” they wrote of their outcomes part of the paper. “The type of pollinator moderated these effects. Honeybees were less effective compared to the most effective and average bird and bee pollinators but were as effective as other taxa. Visitation frequency and SVE were positively correlated, but this trend was largely driven by data from communities where honeybees were absent.”

The researchers concluded that “Although high visitation frequencies make honeybees important pollinators, they were less effective than the average bee and rarely the most effective pollinator of the plants they visit. As such, honeybees may be imperfect substitutes for the loss of wild pollinators, and safeguarding pollination will benefit from conservation of non-honeybee taxa.”

Also contributing to the venture had been Ross Brennan, Anna Britzman, Jessica Greer, Jeremy Hemberger, Hanna Kahl, Uta Müller, Youhong Peng, Nick Rosenberger, Clara Stuligross, Li Wang, and Professors Louie Yang and Neal Williams.

“Honeybees are as effective as the average pollinator, but rarely the most effective pollinators of plants,” in response to the caption. “Surprisingly, honeybees are less effective than other bees as pollinators of cultivated plants, suggesting the importance of honeybees as agricultural pollinators derives largely from their numerical abundance. Their study confirms a widely held belief that honeybees are not the best pollinators of plants globally and substantiates the growing concern that honeybees may be imperfect substitutes for the loss of wild pollinators.”


Woodland and hedgerow creation can play crucial role in action to reverse declines in pollinators


More data:
Maureen L. Page et al, A meta‐evaluation of single go to pollination effectiveness evaluating honeybees and different floral guests, American Journal of Botany (2021). DOI: 10.1002/ajb2.1764

Citation:
How efficient are honey bees as pollinators? (2021, December 6)
retrieved 6 December 2021
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