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Insect pollinators and sustainable agriculture

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Abstract

Underestimation of the pivotal role played by managed and native insect pollinators is a key constraint to the sustainability of contemporary agricultural practices. The economic value of such insects to pollination, seed set, and fruit formation greatly outweighs that suggested by more conventional indices, such as the value of honey and wax produced by honeybees. Although the European honeybee has been widely regarded as the single most important pollinating species, the increasing spread of trachael and Varroa mites and Africanized bees threatens the distribution and magnitude of traditional honeybeekeeping enterprises in North America. A number of other bee and insect pollinators, such as orchard bees, bumblebees, and squash bees, which are not affected by either the mites or the Africanized bees, are considered as likely candidates for management and use in commercial agriculture. An additional role can be played by native or wild pollinators, provided that attention is given to curtailing of population losses caused by both inadvertent insecticide poisoning and habitat destruction. To ensure a reliable source of pollinators, both managed and native, a more comprehensive strategy for management of crop pollination is needed. Elements of this strategy include an increased understanding of the biology and ecology of pollinating insects, as well as providing appropriate nesting habitat, and ensuring the availability of alternative sources of “forage” to sustain populations when the target crops are not in bloom. Examples are discussed to illustrate how private initiatives and changes to public policy can enhance pollinator habitat, and ultimately, agricultural productivity.
... These pollinators range from as small as fairy flies and as big as human beings and other animals which help in accidental pollination. Most of the pollinators are small insects from the order Hymenoptera (e.g., honey bee, ants, wasps, bumble bee, and braconids) and others are from Lepidoptera (moths and butterflies), Diptera (Housefly) [21]. ...
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Pollinators are a crucial part of our ecosystem which aids the life of almost all living organisms present in this universe, and their contributions are justifiable according to Paretian efficient conditions. Though the services are an inseparable part of our life, property rights issues have made it difficult to evaluate the real worth of their services by Coase guidelines, the possible externalities they put to this universe, and the actual impact that free raiders have caused. This paper is based on techniques to incorporate those hidden services in economic assessment and policy formulation. For the economic evaluation of their services, we can quantify their values based on people's willingness to pay for the service, which aids in estimating the market value of producer and consumer's surplus, and the cost of the alternate means to achieve the same services, through production factor method, etc. To identify the sustainability of these ecosystem services, the regulation of pesticide use has to be integrated with these services. Farmers should focus not only on monoculture, but also on intensive farming, chemicals, making the least use of GMOs, and following Permaculture techniques in living and cultivation.
... Managed pollinators are typically honeybees (Apis mellifera L.) and sometimes include commercial bumble bees (Bombus impatiens Cresson) (Drummond 2012). However, more than 100 wild bee species, some of which are more efficient pollinators than managed species (Kevan et al. 1990;Javorek et al. 2002;Drummond 2016;Asare et al. 2017), have been observed in blooming crop fields (Bushmann and Drummond 2015). By increasing reliance on wild bee pollination, growers could reduce costs, though wild bees require consistent access to diverse floral resources throughout the growing season to provide pollination services (Kremen et al. 2002). ...
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Context Power line corridors have been repeatedly assessed as habitat for wild bees; however, few studies have examined them as bee habitat relative to nearby crop fields and surrounding landscape context. Objectives We surveyed bee communities in power line corridors near to and isolated from lowbush blueberry fields in two landscape contexts in Maine, U.S.A. We examined the influences of blooming plant abundance and diversity and bee life-history traits including sociality, nesting preference, and body size. Methods We surveyed wild bees and blooming plants in power line corridors from 2013 to 2015. We calculated landscape composition surrounding sites at multiple scales and gathered bee trait information from the literature. We assessed differences in bee communities owing to landscape context with generalized linear models. Results We collected 125 wild bee species and observed a rare plant-pollinator relationship within power line corridors. We found greater bee abundance and species richness throughout a complex, resource-rich landscape, while mass-flowering lowbush blueberry fields enhanced bee species richness only in a simple, resource-poor landscape. Landscape composition and blooming plant diversity varied with landscape context, though only landscape composition influenced bee communities. Solitary and ground-nesting species were more sensitive to landscape context than social or cavity-nesting species. Conclusions Power line corridors provide crucial refugia for crop pollinating wild bees in agricultural landscapes with resource-poor natural habitat, while bees may selectively forage in power line corridors within agricultural landscapes containing resource-rich natural habitat. We found high-quality forage within corridors; quantifying nesting resources could clarify corridor use by wild bees.
... Concerns about the long-term impacts of intensive agriculture on ecosystems, have prompted the search for alternative methods of sustainable production that are more ecologically and economically sustainable (Tscharntke et al. 2012;Bommarco et al. 2013). Pollination services are an essential element of maximizing production in sustainable agriculture (Kevan et al. 1990;Knapp et al. 2016;Kovacs-Hostyanszki et al. 2017). They are critical for food production and human livelihoods, and directly link wild ecosystems with agricultural production systems (Bommarco et al. 2013;Sharma & Abrol 2014;Lázaro & Alomar 2019). ...
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We are currently seeing an expansion of pollinator-dependent crops in many parts of the world, but also growing evidence for pollinator population declines and loss of pollinator habitat. Climate change and population growth will place additional demands on crop production, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Despite the wealth of evidence that improved management of insect pollinators can lead to substantial gains in crop yield, agricultural improvement strategies in SSA still emphasize the manipulation of abiotic factors and do not fully exploit the value of pollinators. In this article we review the importance of pollination services in sustainable agriculture, how global perspectives can inform our understanding of the situation in SSA, discuss successful pollination management, highlight where research and development are required, and suggest possible solutions to enhance the contribution of pollination services to sustainable agriculture in the region.
... Honey bees (Apis mellifera L.) have long been regarded as the most important insect pollinator of crop plants globally (Kevan et al., 1990) and are widely used by growers for pollination services (Rollin & Garibaldi, 2019). However, concerns regarding their effectiveness as pollinators for some crops, such as dioecious species and hybrid vegetable seed crops, and colony losses through pests and diseases, have led to more focus on other insect pollinators, including other bees and non-bees (FAO 2020;Rader et al., 2009;Reilly et al. 2020). ...
Article
Many ground-nesting bees are known contributors to crop pollination, but only a few specialist pollinating species are managed within agricultural systems. On the whole, most species (including the very large genus Lasioglossum) have been ignored for their crop pollination contribution, largely because of their perceived inability to be effective pollinators. Lasioglossum species are globally very widespread, including across many different environmental and ecological niches. Scattered reports provide credible evidence that these commonly small bees are effective pollinators across a wide range of crops, particularly as they often nest in close aggregations and may be present in crops in large numbers. Given the frequency and flexibility of this genus as flower visitors of many crops, further research to assess their effectiveness as pollinators deserves much greater focus. This is starting to change as assessments begin highlighting their effectiveness as pollinators of a range of crops. Preliminary attention is now being placed on developing potential management (or at least population-influencing) practices to enhance their use.
... Pollinators are important agents for a stable ecosystem (Kremer, 2008;De Groot et al., 2010). They enhance pollination for both wild and flowering plants and also help humans to increase agricultural production (Kevan et al., 1990;Corbet et al., 1991;Widhiono et al., 2016). These insects also benefit the economic, aesthetic, and cultural aspects of mankind (Gill et al., 2016). ...
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Insect pollinators are important means for a stable ecosystem. The habitat types play a crucial role in the community composition, abundance, diversity, and species richness of the pollinators. The present study in Shivapuri–Nagarjun National Park explored the species richness and abundances of insect pollinators in four different habitats and different environmental variables in determining the community composition of the pollinators. Data were collected from 1500 m–2700 m using pan traps and hand sweeping methods. Non–metric multidimensional scaling (NMDS) and redundancy analysis (RDA) were conducted to show the association between insect pollinators and environmental variables. The results firmly demonstrated that species richness and abundances were higher in open trails compared to other habitats. The distribution of the pollinator species was more uniform in the open trail followed by the grassland. Similarly, a strong positive correlation between flower resources and pollinator’s abundance was found. In conclusion, the open trail harbor rich insect pollinators in lower elevation. The community structure of the pollinators was strongly influenced by the presence of flowers in the trails.
... Another factor to be considered is the ergonomy of the work involved, since hand pollination will require postures that can provoke back problems that may reduce his work capacity for other activities (Jafry and O'Neill 2000). Incorporating bees as part of agricultural production should always be considered since it is a sustainable strategy, with economic, social and ecological benefits (Kevan et al. 1990). ...
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An alternative two-entrance hive system demonstrated here is less taxing for the bee colonies. Bees are directed to forage inside the greenhouse when the crop is in flower, and only have access to the outside after anthesis. Consequently, there are no bees in the greenhouse in the afternoon, facilitating crop management. This system allows the farmer to control bee access to the crop without the need for a smoker or protective equipment. Using this system, we compared pollination by honey bees (Apis mellifera) to hand pollination of zucchini squash (Cucurbita pepo) in greenhouses, during two crop seasons. Data included number of flower visits by the bees, fruit production, and the time and consequent labor costs needed to control bee flight direction versus the costs of hand pollination. In the greenhouses with bees, each female flower received a mean of more than 40 bee visits. When eight or more bees visited a flower, the fruits were significantly heavier than with manual pollination (313 versus 232 g, respectively). Total production was increased 41% with bee pollination. Using bee pollination increased profit over 12%, taking into account hive rental and labor costs for hand pollination versus manipulating the hive entrances.
Article
The response of bees to changing environmental temperatures has implications for pollination in natural and agricultural systems, with rising average temperatures and increased environmental stochasticity predicted to cause pollinator population declines. A growing body of evidence for the role of native bees in crop pollination suggests that understanding the temperatures at which bees are active is important for maintaining agricultural productivity under climate change. This study used two methods to sample bees at strawberry farms in south‐eastern Australia, matching activity observations with microclimate temperature to understand how temperature impacts bee activity. Apart from Apis mellifera (introduced), two native bees were identified, Lasioglossum spp. and Exoneura robusta. Apis mellifera was the most abundant species across all environmental temperatures, and E. robusta the least. Visual and sweep‐netting survey results found activity temperature range was broader for A. mellifera (16.21–41.05°C) than Lasioglossum (16.49–38.91°C) and E. robusta (26–38.82°C). The results suggest that activity temperature varies among bee species, with potential implications for community composition and plant pollination under climate change.
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Insect pollinators are important means for a stable ecosystem. The habitat types play a crucial role in the community composition, abundance, diversity, and species richness of the pollinators. The present study in Shivapuri‐Nagarjun National Park explored the species richness and abundances of insect pollinators in four different habitats and different environmental variables in determining the community composition of the pollinators. Data were collected from 1,500 m to 2,700 m using color pan traps and hand sweeping methods. Non‐Metric Multidimensional Scaling (NMDS) and Redundancy Analysis (RDA) were conducted to show the association between insect pollinators and environmental variables. The results firmly demonstrated that species richness and abundances were higher (158) in Open trail compared to other habitats. The distribution of the pollinator species was more uniform in the Open trail followed by the Grassland. Similarly, a strong positive correlation between flower resources and pollinators' abundance (R2 = .63, P < .001) was found. In conclusion, the Open trail harbors rich insect pollinators in lower elevation. The community structure of the pollinators was strongly influenced by the presence of flowers in the trails. We sampled the pollinators along the elevation gradients of Shivapuri–Nagarjun National Park in four types of habitats; forest trail, grassland, trails of managed habitat, and open trail of the forest. Open trail of the forest that hold more floral resources was high in the species richness and abundance of insect pollinators that decrease with the increase of elevation. A strong positive correlation between flower resources and pollinator's abundance was found.
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Методично-інформаційний довідник «БУФЕРНІ ЗОНИ у системах вирощування сільськогосподарських культур» підготовлено у ННЦ «Інститут бджільництва імені П.І. Прокоповича» за співпраці з ГС «Асоціація керованого запилення «BeesAgro», ГО «Фундація жінок пасічниць» та фінансування Проекту USAID «Підтримка аграрного і сільського розвитку». У виданні наведено основні поняття про буферні зони, їх типи та призначення; роль запилювачів у збереженні біорізноманіття, підвищення ефективності запилення та значення хижих комах у підвищені економічної ефективності сільськогосподарського виробництва. Видання призначене для науковців, які консультують з питань організації та використання буферних зон у сільському господарстві; для виробничників, які ведуть екологічнодружнє та ресурсозберігаюче господарювання; для науково-педагогічних працівників закладів освіти, які виховують соціальну, натуралістичну, здоров'язберігаючу та професійні компетенції.
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With reference to Bombinae, includes description of global distribution; annual cycle (hibernation, spring emergence of queens); nest site and construction; larval development; sexual behaviour; nectar collection; role in pollination; and cultural manipulation. -P.J.Jarvis
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A previous study indicated that Eumegachile pugnata may be managed for pollination of sunflower. Additional field studies show that females prefer to nest in deep holes along the margins of nesting units (wooden blocks with holes containing drinking straws). More nests were made in units placed in dense rows of unthinned sunflower plants than were made in units placed at the field margin. An 8-fold increase in the field population was obtained in hybrid plantings and less than 1% of the bee cells were destroyed by nest associates. Mortality of immature stages differed within nesting units; egg mortality in nests constructed near edges exposed to long periods of sunlight was higher than in nests made in protected areas of the unit.