The abundance and diversity of native bees in Ontario apple orchards may be linked to differences in orchard management practices.
That’s the finding of University of Guelph’s Leah Blechschmidt who won first place in the student poster competition at the 2019 Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Convention.
“About a week after the poster competition, I learned that a video regarding my research had also been selected as a top finalist in NSERC's Science, Action! Contest,” says Blechschmidt. “In order to move onto the next round of judging, I need to be among the top 25 most-viewed videos.” See the link here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LTMUi4YPgdQ
The research is important for apple growers because there are no current studies to determine the status of pollinators in Ontario apple orchards, and the factors affecting their populations. In her study, counts of bee numbers and species diversity were conducted over several days at nine orchard locations across southern and central Ontario.
Preliminary results suggest a relationship between the distance between trees in a row and species richness of native bees (i.e. greater distances between trees was associated with greater bee diversity), but that doesn’t include one site where there was a high abundance/diversity, so the results may, in fact, be due to differences in orchard management practices.
She'll be looking further into the significance of management practices such as mowing regimes and the use of herbicide strips, as well as honeybee stocking densities, and landscape factors, such as the distance to surrounding natural areas and the size of patches of natural area.
Source: Leah Blechschmidt, Raine Pollinator Lab, University of Guelph, March 11, 2019.