Date of Award
Master of Science (MS)
Dr. Brian Maricle
Pollinators are integral to plant ecology as well as to worldwide food availability and security. Understanding how human-driven land use change impacts the nutrition of managed honey bees is important in pollinator conservation efforts and can contribute towards combating recent pollinator declines. The objective of this study was to determine sources of forage for honey bees across different land use types in Ellis County, Kansas, through pollen analysis and taxonomic identification. Replicate study colonies were placed in three separate land use types: Urban, Cropland, or Native/Semi-native prairie. Pollen was sampled every 7 to 14 days throughout a growing season (April 1 to September 30) to identify key resources and their availability throughout time and space. Pollen abundance (mass) varied greatly throughout time and across treatments, although Urban colonies trended toward higher pollen abundance and Cropland colonies trended toward reduced pollen abundance. A total of 41 different plant taxa were identified from experimental hives, with willows (Salix) and clovers (Melilotus/Trifolium) observed in abundance among all land use treatments. Taxonomic richness (number of taxa) of floral resources utilized by study colonies was similar between land use treatments, with the exception of a few taxa. Unique distinctions among land use treatments included the abundance of trees in Urban habitat and the prevalence of weedy species in Cropland habitat. Understanding the availability of floral resources in prairies can help to inform conservation decisions and improve understanding of community ecology and health of native pollinators in prairies. Overall colony health and overwintering success could also be improved with a better understanding of how land composition influences honey bee nutrition.
Engel, Ryan, "The influence of land use on the pollen diet of honey bee (Apis mellifera) colonies in Ellis County, Kansas" (2020). Master's Theses. 3154.
© 2020 Ryan Paul Engel