, Volume 45, Issue 1, pp 88-105
Date: 21 Aug 2013

Towards a sustainable management of bees of the subgenus Osmia (Megachilidae; Osmia) as fruit tree pollinators

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Abstract

The limited pollination efficiency of honeybees (Apidae; Apis) for certain crop plants and, more recently, their global decline fostered commercial development of further bee species to complement crop pollination in agricultural systems. In particular, a number of mason bees (Megachilidae; Osmia) are among the most widely used alternative pollinators, and their utilisation has been fine-tuned specifically for pollination in fruit tree orchards. A successful management system should not only aim at optimising pollination efficiency but also consider the relevant biological and ecological requirements to achieve sustainable and healthy bee populations. Here, we review the factors influencing the rate of population increase during the implementation of Osmia bees as orchard pollinators. These factors include nesting material, release methods, and control of antagonists as well as methods optimising management of developmental stages to synchronize bee activity with orchard bloom and to minimize developmental mortality.

Manuscript editor: Peter Rosenkranz