Assessing blue orchard bee (Osmia lignaria) propagation and pollination services in the presence of honey bees (Apis mellifera) in Utah tart cherries

Natalie K. Boyle, Theresa L. Pitts-Singer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Osmia lignaria is a commercially available, native solitary bee species recognized for its propensity to forage upon and pollinate tree fruit crops such as apple, almond and cherry. This study evaluated the implementation of O. lignaria co-pollination with honey bees in central Utah commercial tart cherry orchards during 2017 and 2018 bloom. Three paired 1.2 ha sites were selected for evaluation of cherry fruit set and yield with and without managed O. lignaria releases alongside the standard honey bee hive stocking rate of 2.5 hives/ha. Osmia lignaria supplementation did not measurably increase cherry fruit set, fruit per limb cross-sectional area or fruit weight. The lack of differences in yield is likely a consequence of local saturation of pollinator services supplied by managed honey bees throughout experimental orchards, such that no additive benefit of managed O. lignaria releases were measurable. An increase in managed O. lignaria populations was achieved in 2017 but not 2018, possibly due to unknown changes to orchard management or environmental factors. While flying O. lignaria in Utah tart cherries may support sustainable in-field bee propagation, their subsequent impacts on tart cherry yield were not detected when paired with standard stocking densities of honey bees.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere7639
JournalPeerJ
Volume2019
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

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