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By Keith S. Delaplane Daniel F. Mayer

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1993) recommended ‘a sequence of early blooming forage plants adjacent to [cranberry] bogs’ to encourage bumble bee nesting near the crop. In most cases, installed bee pastures should be designed so that pasture plants do not bloom at the same time as the crop of interest and thereby compete with it for pollinators. However, not all bloom overlaps are harmful. Some highly-attractive flowering plants, called magnet species, can attract large numbers of pollinators to a plant (crop) community (Thompson, 1978).

Bee handlers who propagate solitary pollinators such as alkali bees, alfalfa leafcutting bees, and orchard mason bees routinely do so with little or no sting-protective clothing. There are also disadvantages and uncertainties with non-honey bees and non-managed bees. First, non-honey bees pollinate several crops more efficiently than honey bees on a per-bee basis, but no study has accounted for the overwhelming population advantage of honey bee colonies. Honey bees produce the largest colony population sizes of any bee species.

Worker bumble bees stop incubating brood and respond lethargically to invading predators and parasites in colonies that are experimentally deprived of nectar for even one day (Cartar and Dill, 1991). Therefore, a mid-season nectar dearth can be a simple matter of life or death, let alone a compromise on reproductive performance. 32 Chapter 4 These principles lead us to conclude that in planning a bee pasture one should choose a collection of plants so that there is an unbroken succession of bloom throughout the season.

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