Bumble bees influence berry size in commercial Vaccinium spp. cultivation in British Columbia

  • Ratti C
  • Higo H
  • Griswold T
 et al. 
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Abstract

We studied the abundance, diversity, and dispersion patterns of managed and wild bee (Hymenoptera: Apoidea) populations in commercial highbush blueberry and cranberry (Ericaceae: Vaccinium corymbosum L., Vaccinium macrocarpon Ait.) fields in the Fraser Valley of British Columbia, and assessed their potential as pollinators of these crops by determining which groups of bees had the greatest impact on percent yield and mass of berries. Bumble bees were evenly distributed within both crops. Other wild bee species were well distributed in blue- berry fields but generally remained at edges of cranberry fields. Percent berry yield was not re- lated to bee abundance for any group of bees, nor was species diversity correlated with berry mass. Blueberry mass and cranberry mass were related to abundance of bumble bees but not to that of honey bees or other wild bees. Bumble bees are recommended as potential alternative pollinators of these crops.

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Authors

  • Claudia M. Ratti

  • Heather A. Higo

  • Terry L. Griswold

  • Mark L. Winston

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