ESA Annual Meetings Online Program

Assessing the attractiveness of alternative floral resources for wild bees in Kentucky agroecosystems

Monday, November 14, 2011
Exhibit Hall 3, First Floor (Reno-Sparks Convention Center)
Amanda Skidmore , Entomology, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY
Logan M. Minter , Entomology, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY
Ric Bessin , Dept. of Entomology, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY
Pollination is a key process necessary to produce marketable yields of a great number of crops. With recent fears of declining honeybee populations, growers have begun looking for alternative sources of pollination for their crops. Many bees may benefit from a succession of flowers that provide nectar and pollen throughout the growing season. Managing habitat by providing appropriate mixes of flowering plants may substantially enhance on-farm populations of native bees and may vary by geographical region. Ten species of perennial wildflowers which are native to Kentucky, and four species of flowering cover crops were planted in a common garden at the University of Kentucky Spindletop Farm, and surveyed throughout the summer of 2011 to compare their relative attractiveness to native pollinators. Surveys entailed weekly real-time observations as well as collecting of insect visitors to individual flower species. The primary focus of the surveys was placed on the native Apoidea, but other Hymenoptera families as well as the Diptera family Syrphidae were also included. Of particular interest, several species of perennials were frequently visited by Melissodes bimaculata bimaculata (Lepeletier), a native bee that is also commonly encountered as a visitor to crop flowers in Kentucky.