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Research article2021Peer reviewedOpen access

Mass-flowering red clover crops have positive effects on bumblebee richness and diversity after bloom

Riggi, Laura G. A.; Lundin, Ola; Berggren, Asa


Floral resource quantity in agricultural landscapes plays a key role in the persistence of wild pollinators. An equally important, but less investigated factor is how variation in floral resource availability over time, e.g. floral resource pulses, affects pollinator abundances and diversity. Despite the potential importance of late-season resource pulses for bumblebee reproduction, few studies have evaluated the effects of late-season mass-flowering crops on bumblebee abundances and diversity during and after crop bloom. We assessed how bumblebee abundances, diversity and traits associated with species rarity were affected by cultivation of late-season mass-flowering red clover grown for seed production. Bumblebees were surveyed in red clover fields and flower-rich field borders across 20 landscapes with or without a red clover field during and after crop bloom in southern Sweden. Bumblebee worker abundances were higher in clover fields compared to flower-rich borders in the surrounding landscape. There was no relationship between presence of clover fields and the abundance of males of social bumblebees, but more male cuckoo bumblebees were found in flower-rich borders in landscapes with clover following crop bloom. Mass-flowering red clover also had a positive effect on bumblebee species richness and diversity after crop bloom. Overall, clover had positive and lasting effects on less common bumblebees thereby sustaining higher bumblebee species richness after bloom. Cultivation of red clover has the potential, in combination with the management of flower-rich habitats, to benefit less common bumblebee species in temperate agroecosystems. (C) 2021 Gesellschaft fur Okologie. Published by Elsevier GmbH. All rights reserved.


Trifolium pratense; Bombus; Insect conservation; Floral richness; Floral dominance; Floral area

Published in

Basic and Applied Ecology
2021, Volume: 56, pages: 22-31