Evaluating Native Bee Communities and Nutrition in Managed Grasslands


Native pollinators are important for providing vital services in agroecosystems; however, their numbers are declining globally. Bees are the most efficient and diverse members of the pollinator community; therefore, it is imperative that management strategies be implemented that positively affect bee community composition and health. Here, we test responses of the bee and flowering plant communities to land management treatments in the context of grasslands in the upper Midwestern United States, a critical area with respect to bee declines. Twelve sites were selected to examine floral resources and wild bee communities based on three different types of grasslands: tallgrass prairie remnants, ungrazed restorations, and grazed restorations. Total bee abundance was significantly higher in ungrazed restorations than remnants, but there were no significant differences among grasslands in community composition or Shannon diversity. Across the three grassland types we also examined mass and lipid stores as nutritional health indicators in three sweat bees (Halictidae), Augochlora pura, Agapostemon virescens, and Halictus ligatus. Although there were no differences in lipid content, total average bee mass was significantly higher in Ag. virescens collected from ungrazed restorations as compared to remnants. Floral abundance of native and non-native species combined was significantly higher in grazed restorations compared to remnants and ungrazed restorations. However, ungrazed restorations had higher abundance and richness of native flowering ramets. These data suggest that bee abundance and nutrition are driven by high abundance of native flowering plant species, rather than total flowering plants.




Stein, D S, D M Debinski, J M Pleasants, and A L Toth. “Evaluating Native Bee Communities and Nutrition in Managed Grasslands.” Edited by Richard Redak. Environmental Entomology 49, no. 3 (June 2020): 717–725. doi:10.1093/ee/nvaa009.
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