Orchard crops such as fruits and nuts are being heavily impacted by honey bee shortages for pollination, so growers are relying more and more on wild bees and other native pollinators to ensure an abundant harvest.
A new publication “Wild Pollinators of Eastern Apple Orchards and how to Conserve Them” explains that due to colony collapse disorder and its effects on honey bee hives, it is wise for growers to diversify their pollination dependence. Besides honey bees, there are about 450 other bee species in the eastern U.S., and over 100 of these wild bees visit apple orchards. The more species that are in one area, the more likely there will be a species that can tolerate variable climate conditions, diseases, pesticides, parasites and habitat loss.
The publication includes a color photo guide to bees most important for apple production in the East, steps to conserving wild bee pollination in the orchard, recommended plantings to enhance food for pollinators, summary of commonly used orchard pesticides and how they might affect wild bees, and resources for more information.
The booklet was produced as part of a collaboration between Penn State University and Cornell University. It was funded by a USDA NIFA Specialty Crops Research Initiative project at Penn State that is looking into impacts on honey bee decline on fruit pollination and the development of alternative pollinators, and with additional support of the Northeaster IPM Center. It is authored by Mia Park, Bryan Danforth, John Losey, Arthur Agnello (Cornell University) David Biddinger, Edwin Rajotte (Penn State University) Mace Vaughan, Jolie Dollar (The Xerces Society).
To obtain a free pdf version of the booklet, or instructions to order hardcopies, go to http://www.northeastipm.org/park2012. For more information on native pollinator project at Penn State, go to http://extension.psu.edu/ipm/native-pollinators.
The Penn State Center for Pollinator Research at http://ento.psu.edu/pollinators is devoted to the study of pollination, pollinators and pollinator management and protection. The center comprises 26 independent faculty, including researchers, educators, extension specialists and outreach coordinators, spanning multiple departments and colleges at Penn State.