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Wild bees very critical to US agriculture

New research seems to affirm that wild bees, like bumblebees, mason bees and squash bees, are more essential to many agricultural crops in Pennsylvania than previously thought. After surveying the impact of wild bees at 131 farms in Pennsylvania, California, Florida, Michigan, Oregon and Washington, and Canada, researches at Rutgers University-New Brunswick determined that wild bees add about $1.5 billion to yields of just the six crops they investigated.

Experts looked at apple, cherry and pumpkin crops in Pennsylvania; almonds in California; apples, blueberries and cherries in Michigan; blueberries and watermelons in Florida; blueberry in Oregon; and cherries in Washington.

The researchers also found that the native pollinators boost blueberries and tart cherries in Pennsylvania, and a critical to pumpkin crops in the state. The impact of the wild bees is huge, even on farms trucking in managed hives of honeybees, which are native to Europe and not the U.S.

After spot-checking pollinator visitors to blossoms at the farms, the researchers determined that farms with plenty of fertilizer, water and other plant needs experienced pollinator limits. The honeybee colonies were not providing enough pollination to get the fields or orchards to maximum yield, and wild bees were adding to the total harvest brought off by the farmers.

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