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Research article2021Peer reviewedOpen access

Flower strips enhance abundance of bumble bee queens and males in landscapes with few honey bee hives

Bommarco, Riccardo; Lindstrom, Sandra A. M.; Raderschall, Chloe A.; Gagic, Vesna; Lundin, Ola


Wild bee declines in agricultural landscapes have led farmers to supplement crops with honey bees. Simultaneously, environmental subsidy and conservation programmes have incentivized farmers to establish flower strips to support wild and managed pollinators. To find out if flower strips enhance, and competition from honey bees suppresses, wild bees in the landscape and across seasons, we surveyed bumble bee and honey bee abundances in 16 sites in Sweden in summer 2018. The centre of each site (2 km radius) was with or without an annual flower strip, and with or without added honey bee hives. We surveyed bees in each flower strip and in linear habitats in the landscape around each site, such as field edges and road verges. In the following spring, we surveyed bumble bee queen abundance in each site. We show that adding flower strips benefits bumble bee queen abundance the following year, but this effect is diminished if honeybee hives are added. In sites with flower strips, added honey bee hives reduced male bumble bee abundance. Our relatively small flower strip areas bolstered bumble bee population growth across seasons, probably by relieving a resource bottleneck. Adding honey bee hives in combination with flower strips to landscapes with few floral resources should be avoided as it cancelled the positive effect of flower strips.


Apis mellifera; Bombus; Population growth; Reproduction; Vicia faba; Diversification; Agroecology

Published in

Biological Conservation
2021, Volume: 263, article number: 109363