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Insect pollination is an essential ecosystem service, and bees are the principal pollinators of wild and cultivated plants. Habitat management and enhancement are a proven way to encourage wild bee populations, providing them with food and nesting resources. I examined bee diversity and abundance in plots managed by The Nature Conservancy near Wood River, NE. The plots were seeded with 2 seed mixes at 2 seeding rates: high diversity mix at the recommended rate, high diversity mix double the recommended rate, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) conservation planting (CP) 25 mix at one-half the recommended rate, and NRCS CP25 mix at the recommended rate. I measured wild bee abundance and diversity, and established a database of wild bees associated with the plots. I also compared genus richness and abundance among the plots using and aerial net and blue vane traps to collect bees. Significant differences were not observed in genus richness and diversity among the plots; however, plot size and the ability of blue vane traps to draw bees from a long distance may have influenced my results. In 2008, 15 genera and 95 individual bees were collected using an aerial net and in 2009, 32 genera and 6,103 individual bees were collected using blue vane traps.
I also studied the beneficial insects associated with native Nebraska flora. Seventeen species of native, perennial flora were established in 3 separate plots located in eastern Nebraska. I transplanted four plants of each species in randomized 0.61 m x 0.61 m squares of a 3.05 m x 9.14 m plot. Arthropods were sampled using a modified leaf blower/vacuum. Insects and other arthropods were identified to family and organized into groups of predators, parasites, pollinators, herbivores, and miscellaneous. Associations between plant species and families of beneficial arthropods (predators, parasites, and pollinators) were made. Pycnanthemum flexuosum Walter attracted significantly more beneficial arthropod families than 7 other species of plants tested. Dalea purpurea Vent and Liatris punctata Hook also attracted significantly fewer beneficial arthropod families than 4 other species of plants tested. In total, 31 predator, 11 parasitic, 4 pollinator, 31 herbivore, and 10 miscellaneous families of arthropods were recorded.