Pollinating With Bees

Bee nests

Alkali Bee Nests
Photo: USFS

Alfalfa seed production requires large numbers of bees to pollinate large fields. In areas with alkaline soil where honey bees do not thrive, the alkaline bee, Nomia melanderi, may be managed as a pollinator of alfalfa. These ground nesting Halictid bees, slightly smaller than honey bees, make nests in the soil where they store pollen and rear brood. In suitable areas, populations number in the tens of thousands and one population was estimated at over 5 million.

The value of alkali bees was discovered accidentally when alfalfa growers extended alfalfa production into bee nesting sites. Without the bees, pollination decreased and seed set plummeted. Today, we know the value of alkali bees as¬†pollinators and growers actively manage “bee beds” to have pollinators that will improve their seed yields.

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is an Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
This entry was posted in behavior, Environment. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Pollinating With Bees

  1. waveyd4vey says:

    Thank you for your informative blog post. The more information that gets out there about the necessity of bees for our environment the better.

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