Native Australian bees and their introduced European relatives can support plant pollination together and are not being drawn away from forests by flowering crops.
It’s unlike findings in the Northern Hemisphere that have shown crops tend to act as a “magnet,” drawing pollinators away from forest species
The Western Sydney University study has shown that native bees and exotic European honeybees can support plant pollination together, with different crops and plants attracting different varieties of insect pollinators.
The lead researcher at the university’s Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment, Dr Amy-Marie Gilpin, said the study showed that a wider variety of insects interacted with both crops and forests that flowered at the same time.
“In Australia, introduced European honeybees are significant pollinators of our crops alongside native pollinators,” Dr Gilpin said.
“This research aimed to test whether planting crops near native forests tended to draw pollinators away from the forests, or whether in fact adding floral resources might attract a greater quantity of different pollinators.”
“Instead we found that pollinators tend to specialise around their favourite plant species, and that increasing the flowering plant diversity also increases the range of pollinators present in the ecosystem.”
“This provides good evidence for the planting of different flowering plant types and means that crops are not taking pollinators away from native plants or forests,” she said.
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