Urban Ecosystems

, Volume 21, Issue 6, pp 1113–1122 | Cite as

Non-native plants are a seasonal pollen source for native honeybees in suburban ecosystems

  • Asuka KoyamaEmail author
  • Chika Egawa
  • Hisatomo Taki
  • Mika Yasuda
  • Natsumi Kanzaki
  • Tatsuya Ide
  • Kimiko Okabe


In urban and suburban ecosystems, biodiversity can depend on various non-native plant species, including crop plants, garden plants and weeds. Non-native plants may help to maintain biodiversity by providing a source of forage for pollinators in these ecosystems. However, the contribution of plants in urban and agricultural areas to ecosystem services has often been underestimated in biodiversity assessments. In this study, we investigated the pollen sources of native honeybees (Apis cerana) in an arboretum containing native trees and urban and agricultural plants in a suburban landscape. We surveyed the flowering tree species planted inside the arboretum, which were potential pollen sources. The number of potential pollen-source species of native trees peaked in June and July and decreased after August. We collected A. cerana pollen balls every month and identified plant species of pollen in the collected pollen balls using DNA barcoding. In total, we identified 29 plant species from A. cerana pollen balls. The probability of A. cerana using pollen from urban and agricultural plants was higher in July and August than in June. A. cerana collected pollen forages from native tree species (53%), but also gathered pollen from crop plants (13%), garden trees (19%) and native and non-native weeds (14%); the predominant pollen sources in September and October were the garden tree Ulmus parvifolia and the non-native weed Solidago altissima. We found that native honeybees used plants from a variety of habitats including non-native plants to compensate for apparent seasonal shortages of native tree sources in suburban ecosystems. Our results highlight the importance of assessments of both positive and negative roles of non-native plants in urbanized ecosystems to improve biodiversity conservation.


Apis cerana Arboretum Crop plants Garden plants Pollen forage Solidago altissima 



We are grateful to Dr. T. Masaki for providing the flora list of the FFPRI arboretum. We also thank Dr. A. Nikkeshi for his advice on pollen observation methods, and Dr. T. F. Koyanagi for her advice on GIS analysis. This work received financial support from the Environment Research and Technology Development Fund (1-1401 and 5-1407).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Asuka Koyama
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Chika Egawa
    • 3
  • Hisatomo Taki
    • 1
  • Mika Yasuda
    • 1
    • 4
  • Natsumi Kanzaki
    • 1
    • 5
  • Tatsuya Ide
    • 1
    • 6
  • Kimiko Okabe
    • 1
  1. 1.Forestry and Forest Products Research InstituteIbarakiJapan
  2. 2.Institute for Sustainable Agro-ecosystem Services, Graduate School of Agricultural and Life SciencesThe University of TokyoTokyoJapan
  3. 3.Institute for Agro-Environmental Sciences, NAROIbarakiJapan
  4. 4.BirdLife International TokyoTokyoJapan
  5. 5.Kansai Research CenterForestry and Forest Products Research InstituteKyotoJapan
  6. 6.National Museum of Nature and ScienceIbarakiJapan

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