Impacts of landscape and farming practices on bumble bee colony health and success

Date: 

2016

Summary: 

Bumble bees are important pollinators of crops and wildflowers, but pesticides and parasites have been linked to their declines. This study seeks to compare the performance of experimental bumble bee colonies across landscapes (natural and suburban areas) and farming practices (conventional agriculture and organic agriculture). The research is being conducted by a Masters student, Nelson Milano.

Issue: 

Declines of native pollinator species, which are important for agriculture and natural areas.

Response: 

To date, we have found that colonies performed worse in suburban areas compared to all other landscapes. Colony growth (weight, number of bees) was lower and colony senescence (gyne and drone production, last bees to inhabit the colony) occurred over a short time period in suburban areas. There was no difference among any of the other landscapes or farming practices in terms of colony performance or survival. We are currently quantifying pesticides in the hive material and parasites in the bees to see if one or both of these stressors is associated with performance and/or survival.

Impact: 

Results from this study have been shared with NYSDAM, NYSDEC and the NYS Governor’s office.

Submitted by: 

  • McArt, Scott

Researchers involved: 

  • McArt, Scott

International focus: 

  • United States of America

United States focus: 

  • New York