H. Bees vs other Pollinators.

There is increasing discussion and awareness of how honey bees impact upon wild pollinators. It was probably brought more into the public eye with the issues in London.

Horton, H, (2021) Urban beehive craze means city-dwelling insects are running out of nectar. The Telegraph. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2021/05/07/urban-beehive-craze-means-city-dwelling-insects-running-nectar/

Further Studies

Milner, JRD, Bloom, EH, Crowder, DW, Northfield, TD. Plant evolution can mediate negative effects from honey bees on wild pollinators. Ecol Evol. 2020; 10: 4407– 4418. https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.6207

H. Bees have competitive advantage over W. Pollinators that have coevolved with plants. Thus displacement of W. Pollinators results in reduced plant density. Plants then evolve to be more suitable to H. Bees. Limited plant evolution may lead to pollinator coexistence but excessive may lead to detrimental effects on W. Pollinators.

Valido, A., Rodríguez-Rodríguez, M.C. & Jordano, P. Honeybees disrupt the structure and functionality of plant-pollinator networks. Sci Rep 9, 4711 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-41271-5

Three year field study into the impact of honey bees on local W. Pollinators. H. Bees having greater impact than previously thought. H. Bees can have a negative impact on the reproductive success on plants they regularly visit.

Magrach, A., González-Varo, J.P., Boiffier, M. et al. Honeybee spillover reshuffles pollinator diets and affects plant reproductive success. Nat Ecol Evol 1, 1299–1307 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41559-017-0249-9

H. Bees used in mass pollination of crops often over spill into neighbouring wild areas once crop flowers are over. H. Bees preference for abundant plant species can impact pollen tube growth thus reducing its seed set. This puts it in detrimental conflict with W. Pollinators.

Lucas A. Garibaldi, Ingolf Steffan-Dewenter Rachael Winfree Marcelo A. Aizen Riccardo Bommarco, Saul A. Cunningham Claire Kremen et al. Wild Pollinators Enhance Fruit Set of Crops Regardless of Honey Bee Abundance, Science 2013. https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.1230200

W. Pollinators have declined in ag. landscapes and whether H.Bee visitations mitigate the decline is unclear. Universal positive associations between W. Pollinators and flower visitations in 41 worldwide crop systems but only 14% of those visited by H. Bees. Overall, W. Pollinators are more efficient with visits by H. Bee supplementing pollination.

Leguizamón, Y., Debandi, G. & Vázquez, D.P. Managed honeybee hives and the diversity of wild bees in a dryland nature reserve. Apidologie 52, 991–1001 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13592-021-00882-6

This study within a dryland nature reserve in Argentina looked at the impact of managed H. Bee hives on Wild Bee diversity. The results indicated the managed H. Bee hives had mixed effects on W. Bee assemblage. Given the low density they recommend adaptive management strategies.

Ropars L, Dajoz I, Fontaine C, Muratet A, Geslin B (2019) Wild pollinator activity negatively related to honey bee colony densities in urban context. PLoS ONE 14(9): e0222316. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0222316

Study shows that within a urban context there is a negative correlation between W. Pollinator visitations and H. Bee colony densities. H. Bees tended to focus on managed rather than wild plant species. Study advocates responsible management practices that mitigate the high density of H. Bee colonies in urban environments.

Lázaro, A., Müller, A., Ebmer, A.W., Dathe, H.H., Scheuchl, E., Schwarz, M., Risch, S., Pauly, A., Devalez, J., Tscheulin, T., Gómez-Martínez, C., Papas, E., Pickering, J., Waser, N.M. and Petanidou, T. (2021), Impacts of beekeeping on wild bee diversity and pollination networks in the Aegean Archipelago. Ecography, 44: 1353-1365. https://doi.org/10.1111/ecog.05553

Large scale study shows H. Bee visitation rates has a negative effect on W. Bee richness and abundance. Latter effect was relatively weak compared to the effect of other landscape variables. The impact of H. Bee was more competitive for certain species. Study concludes that H. Bee intensification may be detrimental to W. Bees and their ecosystems.

Henry, M., Rodet, G. Controlling the impact of the managed honeybee on wild bees in protected areas. Sci Rep 8, 9308 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-018-27591-y

Study in a rosemary Mediterranean scrubland in southern France finds that high-density beekeeping triggers foraging competition negative to W. Bees both in occurrence (-55%) and nectar success (-50%). Additionally reduced success of H. Bees pollen (-36%) and nectar (-44%). Competition distances spanned up to 3.8km2 areas around apiaries. They suggest distance thresholds between apiaries and not colony density. Although specific to the small oceanic island with high levels of endemism the recommendations may help in the broader awareness of pollinator competition.

Lindström Sandra A. M., Herbertsson Lina, Rundlöf Maj, Bommarco Riccardo and Smith Henrik G. Experimental evidence that honeybees depress wild insect densities in a flowering crop. Proc. R. Soc. B.2832016164120161641 http://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2016.1641

Introduction of managed colonies alongside crops supressed W. Pollinators. Effect was independent of the surrounding wild landscape and increased with the size of the field.

Walther-Hellwig, Kerstin & Fokuhl, Gerriet & Frankl, Robert & Ralph, Büchler & Ekschmitt, Klemens & Wolters, Volkmar. (2006). Increased density of honeybee colonies affects foraging bumblebees. Apidologie. 37. 517-532. 10.1051/apido:2006035.

Analysed the effects of increased H. Bees density on Bumble Bee behaviour. The copied out the study on a Phacelia Tanacetifolia (Borage) field with adjacent patches of wild plants within an agricultural landscape. B. Bee response varied with some moving onto other plants. There was a minor reduction in short tongued B. Bee numbers. They discuss the issue of competition in flower impoverished sites.

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