Pollination a fine-balancing act

Honey bees are thought to be the primary pollinators, but wild insects may be better. Two new studies, one published in Science and the other in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences, look at the role of wild pollinators and the strength of species respectively.

The first study, in Science, looked at 600 fields in every continent (except Antarctica) where 41 varieties of crop were growing. It found that pollinators like flies and wild bees do half the work, and that farmers can encourage diversity with keeping natural habitats and not using insecticides or pesticides.

In the second study, researchers examined 30,000 museum records to determine “species richness” (number of bees in a given area) over time. Surprisingly, non-native wild bees are outlasting native species, and bumble bees are particularly diminished – a problem since these big bees are great pollinators.

Read more at Rutgers’ School of Environmental and Biological Sciences