Research Reveals Pollinator Benefits from Prescribed Burns

New research from North Carolina State University shows that prescribed burns in longleaf-pine ecosystems can benefit pollinators. Freshly burned longleaf pine forests have more than double the total number of bees and bee species compared with similar forests that have not burned for 50 years, researchers found. Within those burned areas, bee abundance and diversity tended to be greatest at sites that were most recently burned. The effect is credited to fires maintaining openings in the forest canopy, reducing ground cover, and releasing nutrients into soils at the same time, creating the perfect environment for large blooms and increasing the flower resources pollinators rely on. The study also found that the low-intensity prescribed burns did not reduce the amount of nesting material for above-ground nesting pollinators, and the abundance of above-ground nesting pollinators was not impacted by the fires. Meanwhile, below-ground nesting species appeared to benefit from the increased access to bare soil.