Related ATTRA Publication:
Alternative Pollinators: Native Bees
A study led by University of Vermont scientists found that wild bees improve not only blueberry quantities, but also size, size consistency, and earliness of harvest. Researchers studied nine farms across Vermont and calculated that wild bees could boost production 6% on average and as much as 36% on one particular farm, compared with painstaking hand pollination. The researchers also noted that bumblebees are better at pollinating blueberries than are honeybees that farmers could bring in to help with pollination. The results of this study highlight the importance of another recent study by some of the same scientists, showing that wild bees declined in abundance across the United States by 23% between 2008 and 2013. "Many farmers don’t realize they can be limited by not enough pollinators just like they can be limited by water or nutrients," said study leader Charles Nicholson.