Variation in Bumble Bee Foraging Preferences by Flower Characteristics in Southwest Michigan
Bailey, Nicole I.
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Bumble bee populations are declining around the globe, and one of the largest threats to their existence is habitat loss. Agricultural intensification and urbanization limit nesting sites and reduce the abundance of high-quality forage plants available. Potential ways to improve bumble bee populations include protecting semi-natural habitats and creating urban areas of high floral abundance. This study explored the floral diversity and abundance of 11 managed wildlife conservation properties in Southwest Michigan and found 157 unique flower species, useful as a baseline of foraging resources available to bumble bees. Flower-bumble bee interaction surveys were conducted in nine of the properties, and they displayed differences in bumble bee flower interactions depending on the flower species, family, origin of flower species and flower shape. The three bumble bee-plant survey methods revealed that bumble bees preferred irregularly shaped native flowers in the Fabaceae and Lamiaceae families. Analysis of citizen science submissions found that backyard gardens and ornamental plants also provided productive floral resources for bumble bees in urban environments. Predicting which flowers will attract bumble bees is a useful tool for conservation, and these results are useful for the future land management practices of nature preserves and urban environments alike.