Wild Bee Visitation Rates Exceed Pollination Thresholds in Commercial Cucurbita Agroecosystems

C. M. McGrady, R. Troyer, S. J. Fleischer, James Strange

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Wild bees supply sufficient pollination in Cucurbita agroecosystems in certain settings; however, some growers continue to stock fields with managed pollinators due to uncertainties of temporal and spatial variation on pollination services supplied by wild bees. Here, we evaluate wild bee pollination activity in wholesale, commercial pumpkin fields over 3 yr. We identified 37 species of bees foraging in commercial pumpkin fields. Honey bees (Apis mellifera L. [Hymenoptera: Apidae]), squash bees (Eucera (Peponapis) Say, Dorchin [Hymenoptera: Apidae]), and bumble bees (Bombus spp., primarily B. impatiens Cresson [Hymenoptera: Apidae]) were the most active pollinator taxa, responsible for over 95% of all pollination visits. Preference for female flowers decreased as distance from field edge increased for several bee taxa. Visitation rates from one key pollinator was negatively affected by field size. Visitation rates for multiple taxa exhibited a curvilinear response as the growing season progressed and responded positively to increasing floral density. We synthesized existing literature to estimate minimum 'pollination thresholds' per taxa and determined that each of the most active pollinator taxa exceeded these thresholds independently. Under current conditions, renting honey bee hives may be superfluous in this system. These results can aid growers when executing pollination management strategies and further highlights the importance of monitoring and conserving wild pollinator populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)562-574
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of economic entomology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 6 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology
  • Insect Science


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