Date of this Version
Mollet K., 2019. Promoting Bee Communities Through Habitat Enhancements On Public And Private Lands In Nebraska. Thesis: University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Wild and managed bees are the most effective pollinators, accounting for about 80% of the pollination of flowering plants and 75% of fruits, nuts, and vegetables in the United States (USDA, 2019; USFWS, 2019). An estimated 4,000 species of bees reside in North America, the majority of which are wild and unmanaged. Wild bee communities are critical for maintaining healthy ecosystems, as they sustain native flora that provides soil stability and habitat for other wildlife. In a changing landscape, floral enhancements on privately and publicly-owned lands may have great impact for improving habitat for pollinators across the United States. Planting diverse flowering vegetation on otherwise low-yielding farmland provides refuge for wildlife and can help connect fragmented habitats when combined with other conservation efforts. Further, planting pollinator-friendly native wildflowers on roadsides provides nutrient-rich forage and nesting resources for bees and is aesthetically pleasing to humans. This thesis focuses on the impact of habitat enhancements on private agricultural margins and public roadsides on wild bee communities by reviewing the current literature on bee decline and pollinator habitats (chapter 1), examining the effect of establishing conservation habitats in private pivot-irrigated crop fields (chapter 2) and public roadsides (chapter 3), and synthesizing best management recommendations and current available conservation programs for landowners and managers (chapter 4). In chapter 2, pivot corners planted to habitat (HC) had significantly higher bee abundance compared to all non-corner locations as well as significantly higher bee richness compared to all non-corner location in mid & late seasons. In chapter 3, conventional roadside seeding methods had lower abundance and richness for forbs & bees compared to wildflower only treatments. Roughly 50% of seeded forbs established during the first two years. Bee richness on the roadside plots was highest in the late season, while forb abundance and richness were highest in the mid-season. This research demonstrates that planting high diversity vegetation on underutilized and low-yielding farmland and roadsides can have positive impacts on wild bee pollinator communities and further provides recommendations on how to better manage these lands to promote and sustain wild bee communities.
Advisor: Judy Wu-Smart