Non-bee insects are important contributors to global crop pollination.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Wild and managed bees are well documented as effective pollinators of global crops of economic importance. However, the contributions by pollinators other than bees have been little explored despite their potential to contribute to crop production and stability in the face of environmental change. Non-bee pollinators include flies, beetles, moths, butterflies, wasps, ants, birds, and bats, among others. Here we focus on non-bee insects and synthesize 39 field studies from five continents that directly measured the crop pollination services provided by non-bees, honey bees, and other bees to compare the relative contributions of these taxa. Non-bees performed 25-50% of the total number of flower visits. Although non-bees were less effective pollinators than bees per flower visit, they made more visits; thus these two factors compensated for each other, resulting in pollination services rendered by non-bees that were similar to those provided by bees. In the subset of studies that measured fruit set, fruit set increased with non-bee insect visits independently of bee visitation rates, indicating that non-bee insects provide a unique benefit that is not provided by bees. We also show that non-bee insects are not as reliant as bees on the presence of remnant natural or seminatural habitat in the surrounding landscape. These results strongly suggest that non-bee insect pollinators play a significant role in global crop production and respond differently than bees to landscape structure, probably making their crop pollination services more robust to changes in land use. Non-bee insects provide a valuable service and provide potential insurance against bee population declines.


  • Romina Rader
  • Ignasi Bartomeus
  • Lucas A Garibaldi
  • Michael P D Garratt
  • Brad G Howlett
  • Rachael Winfree
  • Saul A Cunningham
  • Margaret M Mayfield
  • Anthony D Arthur
  • Riccardo Bommarco
  • Claire Brittain
  • Luísa G Carvalheiro
  • Natacha P Chacoff
  • Martin H Entling
  • Benjamin Foully
  • Breno M Freitas
  • Barbara Gemmill-Herren
  • Jaboury Ghazoul
  • Sean R Griffin
  • Caroline L Gross
  • Felix Herzog
  • Juliana Hipólito
  • Sue Jaggar
  • Frank Jauker
  • Alexandra-Maria Klein
  • David Kleijn
  • Smitha Krishnan
  • Camila Q Lemos
  • Sandra A M Lindström
  • Yael Mandelik
  • Victor M Monteiro
  • Warrick Nelson
  • David E Pattemore
  • Natália de O Pereira
  • Gideon Pisanty
  • Simon G Potts
  • Menno Reemer
  • Cory S Sheffield
  • Jeroen Scheper
  • Christof Schüepp
  • Dara A Stanley
  • Jane C Stout
  • Hajnalka Szentgyörgyi
  • Hisatomo Taki
  • Carlos H Vergara
  • Blandina F Viana
  • Michal Woyciechowski
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Agricultural Science
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)146-151
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Publication categoryResearch

Related activities

Andersson, G. (First/primary/lead supervisor), Rundlöf, M. (Joint first/primary/lead supervisor)

Activity: Examination and supervisionSupervision of masters students

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