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Response of wild bee communities to beekeeping, urbanization, and flower availability

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Wild bees provide pollination services and are currently declining at the global scale. A potential cause for this decline is competitive interactions with domestic honey bees. Urban beekeeping, a fairly new activity, is rapidly gaining popularity. In contrast with agricultural and natural areas, the extent of competition between honey bees and wild bees in urban areas is unclear. The objectives of this study were to quantify the impact of honey bees, urbanization, and the availability of floral resources on wild bee communities. We hypothesized that honey bees exert negative impacts on wild bees, that floral resources favor wild bee communities and mitigate the negative impacts of competition with honey bees, and that the influence of heat islands, used as a proxy for urbanization, varies between wild bees with their functional traits (nesting behavior). We tested these hypotheses with a data set of 19,077 wild bee specimens collected using colored pan-traps at 25 urban sites in 2012 and 2013. We investigated community and population patterns after accounting for imperfect detection probability. We found no evidence of competition between wild and domesticated bees. Our analyses indicate mixed effects of urban heat islands across species and positive effects of floral resources. We conclude that cities can allow the coexistence of urban beekeeping and wild bees under moderate hive densities. However, it will remain crucial to further investigate the competitive interactions between wild and honey bees to determine the threshold of hive densities beyond which competition could occur.

Urban Ecosystems, Vol. 23 (1), 39–54 (2020)
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Pollinators, Competition, Apis mellifera, Hierarchical models, Urbanization, Solitary bees, Flower diversity
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