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Wild bees of Michigan

Posted by blueberrytalk on May 8, 2009

Native bees can be a big help in pollinating blueberries. With not much effort the population of Bumblebees and Mason bees can be increased by growing Anise Hyssop for the bumblebees and providing nests for the Mason bees. A study in Michigan found lots of wild bees.

Julianna Tuell, a postdoctoral Michigan State University entomology researcher who studies pollinating insects, was surprised at what she found in the blueberry fields of southwestern Michigan.

“We found 112 species during blueberry bloom, and 166 species overall,” Tuell said. “They aren’t all visiting blueberries, but at least half of them are contributing to pollination. There’s a really wide diversity of bees across the season, with some that provide pollination during bloom and are also active later in the season.”

 The research team also found seven bee species that had not previously been found as far north as Michigan. These findings, which have been published in the Annals of the Entomological Society of America, not only point to a more diverse ecosystem in the managed blueberry fields, but they also mean that growers may have more options than previously thought for pollinating their crops.

 “We encourage growers to think about integrated crop pollination,” Tuell said. “The grower brings in managed bees but does things to encourage natural pollinators and modifies some practices to help beneficial insects. Growers are interested and surprised by how many bees are out there.”

Michigan wild bee

Michigan wild bee


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