Submitted to: The Canadian Entomologist
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/26/2008
Publication Date: 7/7/2008
Citation: Ratti, C.M., Higo, H.A., Griswold, T.L., Winston, M.L. 2008. Bumble Bees Influence Berry Size in Commercial Vaccinium spp. Cultivation in British Columbia. The Canadian Entomologist. 140:348-363. Interpretive Summary: Bee pollinators are vital to the production of cranberries and highbush blueberries. A study of the abundance, diversity, and dispersion patterns of managed honeybees and wild bees was conducted in commercial fields of these crops in the Fraser Valley of British Columbia to determine their relative value for crop production. A diversity of bees was found to visit cranberries and blueberries but only bumble bees showed a strong effect on yields. Therefore, bumble bees are recommended as potential alternative pollinators of these crops.
Technical 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 blueberry fields but generally remained at edges of cranberry fields. Percent berry yield was not related 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.