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Honeybee Reliance is a 'Risky Strategy': More Pollinators Here

Dec 02, 2015 01:55 PM EST
Thrips at various stages of maturity
Many non-bees -- including moths, butterflies, thrips and others -- also are significant pollinators worldwide. A recent study talks about their levels of efficiency and the need to protect them from pesticides too.
(Photo : Flickr: Scot Nelson)

If insecticides omit bees from the killing but affect other insects, they may be zeroing in on other important pollinators, a study led by Australian researchers recently found.

Some of the crops that depend on certain pollinating flies, moths, butterflies, wasps, ants and the tiny, winged insects called thrips include custard apples, kiwi, coffee, mangoes, and canola, according to a release

"The global reliance on honeybees for pollination is a risky strategy given the threats to the health of managed honeybee populations due to pests and diseases such as varroa mites and colony collapse disorder. Non-bee insects are an insurance against bee population declines."

In the study, the scientists learned that while non-bees were slightly less effective than bees at pollinating for each flower visit, they were somewhat busier and provided a few more visits.

"These two factors compensated for each other, resulting in pollination services similar to bees," Dr. Romina Rader from the University of New England, Armidale (in Australia) said in the release.

Also, fruit increased in the line of crops with visits from the non-bees, which occurred independently of the bees' visits.
The non-bees also seem more flexible in their habits: "We also found that non-bee pollinators were less sensitive to habitat fragmentation than bees," said Dr. Rader in the release.

The study findings were recently published in the journal PNAS

For more great nature science stories and general news, please visit our sister site, Headlines and Global News (HNGN).

-Follow Catherine on Twitter @TreesWhales


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