Submitted to: Crop, Forage & Turfgrass Management
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/11/2016
Publication Date: 12/28/2016
Publication URL: http://handle.nal.usda.gov/10113/5695393
Citation: Sanderson, M.A. 2016. Forage and grasslands as pollinator habitat in North Dakota. Crop, Forage & Turfgrass Management. 2:1-6.
Interpretive Summary: The northern Great Plains has significant perennial grassland, which in addition to supporting livestock, provides critical habitat to both native and domestic pollinators. Recently, there has been significant change in land use from perennial crops to annual crops. Thus, it is important to understand immediate land use around apiaries to accurately gauge potential pollinator resources. In 2014 and 2015 the land use around 320 apiaries in North Dakota was documented. The number of crops or land uses surrounding the apiaries ranged from 1 to 5 with hay crops the most common followed by wheat and pasture. This assessment demonstrated that forage and grazingland in North Dakota provides an essential ecosystem service in providing landscapes that support diverse floral resources for both native pollinators and commercial apiaries. Understanding the links among agroecosystem diversity, management intensity, land use, and pollinators will enable better decisions to be made on where pollinator habitat is best enhanced on the landscape.
Technical Abstract: Perennial grasslands typically support a diversity of vegetation and an abundance of pollinators. The northern Great Plains provide critical habitat for pollinators, both native and those managed for honey production. The objective of this research was to broadly assess the land use adjacent to apiaries across North Dakota. In 2014 and 2015 the land use around 320 apiaries in North Dakota was documented in roadside surveys and site visits. Results showed that apiaries were most often located near perennial grassland followed by small grain crops, grazingland, and trees. The distribution of apiaries seemed to follow the acreage of crops in North Dakota. There was a greater frequency of apiaries associated with hay and pasture than other crops except small grains in relation to crop acreage. The number of crops or land uses surrounding the apiaries ranged from 1 to 5 with hay crops the most common followed by wheat and pasture. Apiaries were also frequently located in abandoned farmsteads and near shelterbelts. The results presented here highlight the value of forage and grazinglands in providing additional ecosystem services that support native pollinators and a large domestic honey bee industry.