The European honey bee, Apis mellifera L., is commonly used as a surrogate to understand pesticide risk to all bees, yet, honey bees have different life history and foraging behavior than most bees native to North America.
Native bees are primarily solitary ground and stem nesters supplying larvae with individual pollen provisions rather than collecting resources for a eusocial colony.
One key assumption in the current pesticide risk model is that, despite differences in forage preferences
and behavior, all bees in agriculture are exposed to the same level of pesticide risk. We tested the assumption that native bees and honey bees share similar pesticide exposure patterns in cherry production in The Dalles, Oregon.
This system is unique in that native oak habitat directly borders cherry orchards. This landscape places
a rich native bee community alongside commercial crop production where insecticides are used to control pests.
Moreover, orchardists plant large areas of bee-attractive cover crop amid the cherry orchard and oak habitat. We also tested this assumption in carrot seed production in Madras, Oregon. This system has annual crops with fewer blooming wild plants nearby and bee-attractive cover crops planted to support honey bee colony health during the carrot bloom time.
Honey bee and native bee forage overlap can lead to competition between managed and wild bees4,5 and disease transmission between species6,7. Therefore, identifying areas where honey bees and native bees share resources could have implications for bee health and conservation in addition to identifying weak points of the current EPA pesticide exposure model.