Steven K. Javorek1
(Partner: New Brunswick Wild Blueberry Growers Association)
Abstract: The spatio-temporal patterns of habitat utilization by indigenous bees within the New Brunswick wild blueberry agro-ecosystem were studied in 1998 and 1999. Andrena nesting was generally restricted to commercial blueberry fields while Bombus established nests in undisturbed woodlands, open thickets and old field habitats. The Vaccinium angustifolium flowering period overlaps with only 37-41% of the entire life span of Andrena, 27-34% of the Bombus queen foraging phase and just 5-18 days of the Bombus worker activity period. As such, alternative forage is required to maintain indigenous bee populations for blueberry pollination. A total of 50 plant species were identified as primary bee forage over the April to September study period. When flowering plant populations were separated into habitat specific categories it was apparent that floral availability was unevenly distributed, both spatially and temporally, throughout the study areas. These habitat-linked floral assemblages resulted in not only the need for bee populations to exploit a changing array of forage plants, but to switch between several habitats over the course of individual or colonial life spans. The availability of primary forage yielding habitats (forest edges, open thickets, commercial blueberry fields and wild flower areas) affected bee abundance within study areas.
1Diversified Pollination Systems, P.O. Box 633, Kentville, NS B4N 3X7