Priority Areas

 

 

 The Native Bumblebee Pollen Survey attends to the urgent need for research about native bee populations and the possible reasons for their decline. Specifically, this project investigates bumblebee colony health in relation to the food resources available in meadows dominated by either native or exotic plants. This research is currently taking place in 20 meadows at UVA’s Blandy Experimental Farm, at The Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, and at several privately-owned properties. The results of this work will significantly advance our understanding of how invasive plants may negatively affect bees, which are responsible for a disproportionately large share of an invaluable ecosystem service (i.e., pollination).

Even though there is a huge share of land that could support bee-mediated ecosystem services within developed areas, most traditional landscaping approaches fail to do so. Lawns, for example, provide minimal ecosystem services, yet lawn acreage far outpaces all US National Parks, combined. Landscaping decisions are therefore highly relevant to maintaining biodiversity and environmental health. This work will test whether the choice among landscaping options (native versus exotic) can enhance the value of habitat for native bees.

Half of the meadows included in the study are actively managed for wildflowers and the other half are left fallow. All will host a single hive of Eastern Bumblebee (Bombus impatiens) from late May to mid-August. In that time, UVA students and researchers, VWL staff, and citizen scientists will conduct twice-monthly visits to sample pollen from bees and to survey the surrounding vegetation. This data will allow researchers to quantify bee foraging efficiency, colony growth, and reproductive success – all factors that are likely to be important for the long-term survival of bee populations.

This project benefits the many public and private landowners who are eager to manage their land for biodiversity, provides important new information about native bees, and ultimately serves the general public, especially if bee-friendly land management practices are adopted more broadly.


 
VWL's Role:
We facilitated the selection of fields and sites for this project on properties in our area in the VWL landowner network.
 
Partners and Primary Investigators:
David Carr & T'ai Roulston at University of Virginia's State Arboretum & Blandy Experimental Farm
 
Project Timeline & Status:
Field work began Spring 2018 - Ongoing
 
Funding:
 
Related Resources:
Check out our management guides page and quick start guides to learn what you can do to promote native biodiversity at home!
 
Additional resources: Bringing Nature Home. D Tallamy, 2009, Timber Press: Portland.

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Virginia Working Landscapes
Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute
1500 Remount Road
Front Royal, Virginia 22630
 
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540.635.0038