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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: BEE DIVERSITY AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF HEALTHY, SUSTAINABLE BEE POLLINATION SYSTEMS

Location: Pollinating Insects-- Biology, Management and Systematics Research

Title: Meeting wild bees' needs on rangelands

Author
item Cane, James

Submitted to: Rangelands
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: March 3, 2011
Publication Date: May 1, 2011
Citation: Cane, J.H. 2011. Meeting wild bees' needs on rangelands. Rangelands. 33(3):27-32.

Interpretive Summary: Bees are diverse, abundant and key pollinators on many arid rangelands. Most species will be non-social and nest in the ground; many will be floral specialists. In contrast with cultivated agriculture, rangeland management practices impose few direct mortality factors on bees. Instead, their fates are tied to those of their wildflower communities, which are too often degraded by invasive exotics and past or present livestock grazing. Surprisingly, rangeland bee faunas can endure these abuses (including fire), and are ready to respond to active plant community restoration efforts that entail seeding forbs.

Technical Abstract: Some arid rangeland regions, notably those with warm dry climates of the temperate zones, host great diversities of native bees, primarily non-social species among which are many floral specialists. Rangeland bee faunas are threatened indirectly by invasive exotic weeds wherever these displace native plant communities. In contrast with cultivated agriculture, pollinators in rangeland are unlikely to encounter toxic insecticides. Rangeland fire is proving inconsequential for bees except for its later beneficial or detrimental influences on the wildflower communities upon which they depend. Surprisingly diverse if sparse native bee faunas have persisted on rangelands formerly degraded by livestock overgrazing, an observation that augurs well for positive outcomes from those rangeland restoration projects that include seeding of bee-pollinated forbs.

Last Modified: 9/1/2014