Journal of Insect Conservation

, Volume 17, Issue 6, pp 1275–1283 | Cite as

Competition between honey bees and wild bees and the role of nesting resources in a nature reserve

  • Anika HudewenzEmail author
  • Alexandra-Maria Klein


The European honey bee exploits floral resources efficiently and may therefore compete with solitary wild bees. Hence, conservationists and bee keepers are debating about the consequences of beekeeping for the conservation of wild bees in nature reserves. We observed flower-visiting bees on flowers of Calluna vulgaris in sites differing in the distance to the next honey-bee hive and in sites with hives present and absent in the Lüneburger Heath, Germany. Additionally, we counted wild bee ground nests in sites that differ in their distance to the next hive and wild bee stem nests and stem-nesting bee species in sites with hives present and absent. We did not observe fewer honey bees or higher wild bee flower visits in sites with different distances to the next hive (up to 1,229 m). However, wild bees visited fewer flowers and honey bee visits increased in sites containing honey-bee hives and in sites containing honey-bee hives we found fewer stem-nesting bee species. The reproductive success, measured as number of nests, was not affected by distance to honey-bee hives or their presence but by availability and characteristics of nesting resources. Our results suggest that beekeeping in the Lüneburg Heath can affect the conservation of stem-nesting bee species richness but not the overall reproduction either of stem-nesting or of ground-nesting bees. Future experiments need control sites with larger distances than 500 m to hives. Until more information is available, conservation efforts should forgo to enhance honey bee stocking rates but enhance the availability of nesting resources.


Andrena fuscipes Colletes succinctus Apis mellifera Heriades truncorum Heath 



We acknowledge the “VNP Lüneburger Heide” for providing maps with honey-bee hive distribution and the LK Heidekreis for the permission to conduct our study in the nature reserve. We thank T. Bräutigam and Y. Wagner for help with data collection and M. Pereira Peixoto and T. Niemeyer are greatly acknowledged for the help with the construction of the trap nests. C. Brittain is acknowledged for language corrections and C. Schüepp and I. Steffan-Dewenter for helpful comments. A.H. is supported by the German Federal Environmental Foundation (Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt).

Supplementary material

10841_2013_9609_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (67 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 66 kb)
10841_2013_9609_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (56 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (PDF 55 kb)
10841_2013_9609_MOESM3_ESM.pdf (10 kb)
Supplementary material 3 (PDF 10 kb)
10841_2013_9609_MOESM4_ESM.pdf (10 kb)
Supplementary material 4 (PDF 9 kb)


  1. Badano EI, Vergara CH (2011) Potential negative effects of exotic honey bees on the diversity of native pollinators and yield of highland coffee plantations. Agric Forest Entomol 13(4):365–372CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bates D, Maechler M (2010) Package lme4: Linear mixed-effects models using S4 classes.
  3. Beekman M, Ratnieks F (2000) Long-range foraging by the honey bee Apis mellifera L. Funct Ecol 14(4):490–496CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Crane E (1990) Bees and beekeeping: science, practice and world resources. Heinemann Newnes, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  5. Dray S, Dufour A-B (2007) The ade4 package: implementing the duality diagram for ecologists. J Stat Softw 22(4):1–20Google Scholar
  6. ESRI (2011) ArcGIS Desktop: Release 10. Environmental Systems Research Institute, RedlandsGoogle Scholar
  7. Evertz S (1995) Interspezifische konkurrenz zwischen honigbienen (Apis mellifera) und solitären wildbienen (hymenoptera aculeata). Natur und Landschaft 70:165–172Google Scholar
  8. Forup ML, Memmott J (2005) The relationship between the abundances of bumblebees and honeybees in a native habitat. Ecol Entomol 30(1):47–57CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Giurfa M, Núñez JA (1992) Honeybees mark with scent and reject recently visited flowers. Oecol 89(1):113–117CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Goulson D (2003) Effects of introduced bees on native ecosystems. Annu Rev Ecol Evol Syst 34:1–26CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Goulson D, Sparrow KR (2009) Evidence for competition between honeybees and bumblebees; effects on bumblebee worker size. J Insect Conserv 13(2):177–181CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Jauker F, Diekötter T, Schwarzbach F, Wolters V (2009) Pollinator dispersal in an agricultural matrix: opposing responses of wild bees and hoverflies to landscape structure and distance from main habitat. Landscape Ecol 24(4):547–555CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Minckley RL, Roulston T (2006) Incidental mutualisms and pollen specialization among bees. In: plant-pollinator interactions: from specialization to generalization. The University of Chicago Press, Chicago and London, pp 69–98Google Scholar
  14. Oksanen J, Kindt R, Legendre P, O’Hara B, Stevens MHH, Oksanen MJ, Suggests M (2007) The vegan package. Community ecology package.
  15. Paini DR, Williams MR, Roberts JD (2005) No short-term impact of honey bees on the reproductive success of an Australian native bee. Apidologie 36(4):613–621CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Pinkus-Rendon MA, Parra-Tabla V, Meléndez-Ramírez V (2005) Floral resource use and interactions between Apis mellifera and native bees in cucurbit crops in Yucatan Mexico. Can Entomol 137(4):441–449CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Potts SG, Willmer P (1997) Abiotic and biotic factors influencing nest-site selection by Halictus rubicundus, a ground-nesting halictine bee. Ecol Entomol 22(3):319–328CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Potts SG, Vulliamy B, Roberts S, O’Toole C, Dafni A, NE’Eman G, Willmer P (2005) Role of nesting resources in organising diverse bee communities in a Mediterranean landscape. Ecol Entomol 30(1):78–85CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. R Development Core Team (2012) R: A language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, ViennaGoogle Scholar
  20. Schaffer WM, Zeh DW, Buchmann SL, Kleinhans S, Schaffer MV, Antrim J (1983) Competition for nectar between introduced honey bees and native North American bees and ants. Ecology 64(3):564–577CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Steffan-Dewenter I, Tscharntke T (2000) Resource overlap and possible competition between honey bees and wild bees in central Europe. Oecol 122(2):288–296CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Stout JC, Goulson D (2001) The use of conspecific and interspecific scent marks by foraging bumblebees and honeybees. Anim Behav 62(1):183–189CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Stout JC, Goulson D, Allen JA (1998) Repellent scent-marking of flowers by a guild of foraging bumblebees (Bombus spp.). Behav Ecol Sociobiol 43(4):317–326CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Thomson D (2004) Competitive interactions between the invasive European honey bee and native bumble bees. Ecology 85(2):458–470CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Vázquez DP, Aizen MA (2004) Asymmetric specialization: a pervasive feature of plant-pollinator interactions. Ecology 85(5):1251–1257CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Von Frisch K (1967) The dance language and orientation of bees. Harvard University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  27. Walther-Hellwig K, Fokul G, Frankl R, Büchler R, Ekschmitt K, Wolters V (2006) Increased density of honeybee colonies affects foraging bumblebees. Apidologie 37(5):517–532CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Wells H, Wells PH (1983) Honey bee foraging ecology: optimal diet, minimal uncertainty or individual constancy? J Anim Ecol 52(3):829–836CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Yokoi T, Fujisaki K (2011) To forage or not: responses of bees to the presence of other bees on flowers. Ann Entomol Soc Am 104(2):353–357CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Ecology, Ecosystem FunctionsLeuphana University of LüneburgLüneburgGermany
  2. 2.Chair of Nature Conservation and Landscape Ecology, Institute of Earth and Environmental SciencesUniversity of FreiburgFreiburgGermany

Personalised recommendations