Wild bees in Canadian grasslands: Pollinator Functions in the Canadian Forage Seed World
During this session Jess Vickruck spoke about the important role that grasslands play in maintaining the function of wild bee diversity across Canada and options for maintaining and growing the impact of this function.
Jess Vickruck is a research scientist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada based in Fredericton, N.B. Her research is primarily interested in how wild bees use agricultural landscapes and how we can manage those landscapes to increase wild bee biodiversity and the pollination services those bees bring.
There are over 930 species of wild bees in Canada. Most are solitary and nest in the ground in tunnels. There are broad ranges of shapes, sizes (poppy seed to quarter), colours and flying ranges.Bees feed on pollen and the nectar of flowers. Their shelters range from nests, well-drained soil, twigs and mouse burrows. In prairies, there is little diversity in habitat except for in rangeland, which provides the most opportunities for wild bees. People should expect to see more bees closer to wetland as opposed to rangeland. The specie’s richness is the same regardless of wetland proximity. Bee abundance is stable as it moves away from wetland into rangeland, but decreases moving into canola and cereal. Bare ground is attractive to ground nesting bees. They also prefer moderate grazing.
How do restored areas affect bee communities?
Overall, bee diversity returns to pre-disturbance levels within one to four years. Bumble bee diversity returns almost immediately, while little bees take longer to recolonize restored grassland spaces.
“Wild bees use rangeland as important nesting and forage spaces.” “Moderate grazing helps to create new nesting opportunities over time.” We need to expand this work to other ecosystem settings.
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