Nesting Preferences of Stem Nesting Bees in Southwest Michigan Agricultural Fields
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For the last two decades around the world invertebrate and vertebrate pollinators have been in decline. This includes the European honey bee Apis melli/era, which is responsible for pollinating $10 billion worth of crops every year. There is some hope that wild bees can fill the gap left behind by the declining honey bee. Some potential candidates are the bees in the family Megachilidae. However, there needs to be more information on the nesting preference of these bees in order for farmers to attract these insect to their farms. This study looked at the preference of Megachilidae bees to three different nest trap types in six blueberry fields in southwest Michigan. This was done by looking at the overall number of bee nests found in the three different nest trap types (mixed, Binderboard®, drilled plank), different medium (wood or cardboard), hole sizes (small or large holes) and nest trap orientation (east or not east). In the mixed nest trap, more bees preferred the cardboard to the wood. Across both treatments (wood and cardboard) in this nest trap there were significantly more bees nesting in the large holes instead of the small holes. It was also found that hole size had more predictive power than the medium used to nest in. There was no significant difference between the two different nest trap orientation groups (east and not east) in either the Binderboard® or the mixed nest trap. There was no significant difference between the number of bee nests found in the Binderboard and mixed nest traps. However, there were significantly more bee nests found in Binderboard® and mixed nest traps compared to the drilled plank nest trap. Sites that had more natural land surrounding them had more bee nests found in the nest traps., Based on the results from this study, farmers should use trap nests that have properties similar to those of the Binderboard® and the mixed nest traps to get the greatest diversity of bees on their farms. Farms should also have abundant natural land surrounding the crops to provide pollen and other resources for the bees.Entomological Department. Michigan State University. East Lansing, Michigan.