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Evaluation of herbaceous plants for attractiveness to bumble bees for use near cranberry farms

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Journal of Apicultural Research

Vol. 32 (2) pp. 73-79
July 1993
Article Title

Evaluation of herbaceous plants for attractiveness to bumble bees for use near cranberry farms


Kim D Patien; Carl H Shanks; Daniel F Mayer


Twenty-one herbaceous bee forage species were evaluated for attractiveness to bumble bees (Bombus spp.) and honey bees (Apis mellifera) and for their potential to grow in tandem with cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon) plantings to increase native bee populations for pollination. Seventeen of the species were planted in four replicated plots next to a cranberry bog in Long Beach, WA, USA, and four species were already established in an area adjacent to the plots. Agastache ruposa, A. foeniculum and Lotus corniculatus were the most attractive to short-tongued bumble bees. Nepeta mussinii, Borago officinalis, Phacelia tanacetifolia and A. foeniculum were the most attractive to long-tongued bumble bees. Honey bees were most attracted to B. officinalis, P. tanacetifolia and Raphanus sativus. The major short-tongued bee species A. mellifera, B. mixtus, B. occidentalis and B. Sitkensis were the only significant pollinators of cranberry. The long-tongued species B. caliginosus and B. californicus were insignificant pollinators. Bumble bees preferred purple flowers, but there was no clear relationship between bee population density and the level of available soluble carbohydrate per flower or per area. The periodicity of foraging behaviour depended on bee species and plant; honey bees peaked at 15.00 h, while bumble bees were more constant throughout the day.


Bombus, bumble bees, Apis mellifera, honey bees, nectar plants, pollenplants, bee forage, pollination, Vaccinium macrocarpon, cranberry

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