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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Madison, Wisconsin » Vegetable Crops Research » Research » Research Project #442939

Research Project: Native Pollinator Enhancement in Wisconsin Fruit and Vegetable Cropping Systems

Location: Vegetable Crops Research

Project Number: 5090-21220-007-030-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Sep 1, 2022
End Date: Aug 31, 2026

Objective 1: Create and deploy on-farm bee nesting sites to assess the potential for native pollinator improvement at large scales in commercial fruit and vegetable cropping systems. Objective 2: Measure bee occupancy in the provisioned nursery posts (wooden posts with drilled tunnels for bee nesting) and assess the potential for long-term, sustainable maintenance of native bees in the posts.

1. Design, build, and deploy native bee nursery posts. Wood posts (8” × 8” × 18”) will be mounted on rebar stakes on the sides of cranberry/vegetable beds. Approximately 10-14 nursery blocks per bed will be erected according to grower preference. Tunnels will be drilled into each post in a spiral pattern to maximize the number of tunnels per post. This approach will involve close collaboration with each grower. Four beds per farm, and at least five farms will be involved. 2. To assess bee use of the nursery posts, occupancy by larval bees must be measured, particularly for stem-nesting megachilid and apid bees. Waxed paper straws will be inserted into each drilled tunnel, a technique well established for megachilid (Megachile and Osmia spp.) culturing. To ensure that bees are present at study sites, adult bees will be ordered from a major supplier of Osmia in Washington State and released. Approximately 100 adult bees will be released at each post, using a ‘mounted basket’ system. Occupancy rates will be measured only in the drilled tunnels, and all bee species will be identified and tallied.