Experimental evidence that honeybees depress wild insect densities in a flowering crop

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While addition of managed honeybees (Apis mellifera) improves pollination of many entomophilous crops, it is unknown if it simultaneously suppresses the densities of wild insects through competition. To investigate this, we added 624 honeybee hives to 23 fields of oilseed rape (Brassica napus L.) over 2 years and made sure that the areas around 21 other fields were free from honeybee hives. We demonstrate that honeybee addition depresses the densities of wild insects (bumblebees, solitary bees, hoverflies, marchflies, other flies, and other flying and flower-visiting insects) even in a massive flower resource such as oilseed rape. The effect was independent of the complexity of the surrounding landscape, but increased with the size of the crop field, which suggests that the effect was caused by spatial displacement of wild insects. Our results have potential implications both for the pollination of crops (if displacement of wild pollinators offsets benefits achieved by adding honeybees) and for conservation of wild insects (if displacement results in negative fitness consequences).


Enheter & grupper
Externa organisationer
  • Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
  • Swedish Rural Economy and Agricultural Society

Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ) – OBLIGATORISK

  • Miljö- och naturvårdsvetenskap
  • Ekologi


TidskriftProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
StatusPublished - 2016 nov 30
Peer review utfördJa