08 May, 2019

Native and non-native plants attract diverse bees to urban gardens in california

by Frankie et al.

In the world of habitat gardening for native pollinators, the question of using native versus non-native plants comes up frequently.  Some studies addressing this question point to the value of using native plants as the most desirable method for planning a garden as native pollinators would be the most likely visitors, because of their long evolutionary association with native plants. Other studies, however, indicate that designing such a garden should depend on what pollinators prefer, and that knowing plant-pollinator relationships is where one should begin the planning process.

A comparative study was conducted in urban California to follow up on this question by evaluating native vs non-native plant attraction to native and non-native bee species. Records of 7,659 bees and their floral hosts were examined from extensive collections sampled from 2005-2011 by the University of California Urban Bee Lab. Of the 229 bee species examined, 71 were from only native plants; 52 were from only non-native host plants; and 106 were collected from both types of plants.  Flowering periods in months were similar.  The study concluded that using native and non-native plants increased the opportunities for attracting a richer diversity of bee species and for longer periods.  Knowing basic bee-flower relationships is key to planning a bee habitat garden with the goal of achieving high bee pollinator activity.
Read the scientific publication in JPE.

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