This summer we completed our third and final field season surveying pollinator visitation to native plants and native cultivars! We will maintain our experimental garden for one additional season, to finish up some plant measurements and data collection missed in our initial three seasons. This post will serve as a 2022 field update in addition to summarizing some of our preliminary results from our field observations!
Study Plants (2020-2022)
|Photo||Scientific Name||Common Name||Plant Type|
|Aquilegia formosa||Western Red |
|Aquilegia x ‘XeraTones’||Cultivar (hybrid)|
|Camassia leichtlinii||Great Camas||Native|
‘Caerulea Blue Heaven’
|Nemophila menziesii||Baby Blue Eyes||Native |
|Baby Black Eyes||Cultivar|
|Baby Blue Eyes||Cultivar|
|Sidalcea asprella |
**Added in 2021 to replace removed plants
***Discontinued after 2020 due to taxonomic inconsistencies
We conducted 5-minute visual observations on our study plants over three seasons. During these observations, we recorded all insects that interacted with a plant. These interactions included foraging, resting, basking, mating, etc. We recorded insect IDs to morphological group levels, as many bees are hard to identify to species in the field! We were able to identify common bumble bees, honey bees, butterflies, and a few other insects to the species level, but many were identified to groups for ease (e.g. ‘green bees’, ‘black bees’, ‘leafcutter bees’).
Field Season Stats
|Year||# Sample Dates||# Collected Pollinators||# Observed Pollinators|
Is there a difference in native bee visitation to native plants and their cultivars?
Our initial graphs show a subtle preference for native types by native bees. Douglas’ Aster, California Poppy, Farewell to Spring, and Columbine (4/7) have higher visitation by native bees when looking at cumulative and mean counts. The difference is marginal for Douglas’ Aster, but trends for the other three plants are strong. The remaining three species (Yarrow, Baby Blue Eyes, Camas) are difficult to assess, based on these figures alone.
Across these seven species, we do see differences in visitation between natives (wild types) and native cultivars. Whether these differences are statistically significant, and whether there is a trend across all plant groups, remains to be seen!!!
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I want to recognize my amazing Bee Team this year, as this field season would not have been possible without them! I am grateful for all of their hard work and their success in managing this project while I was away numerous times this season. They are thoughtful, inquisitive, and resourceful students, all of whom would make amazing lab or field technicians upon their graduation this spring! Nicole is not pictured below, but also deserves recognition for all her contributions to this project. Thank you all 🐝
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Achillea ‘Moonshine’ is not the species A. millefolium. It’s a hybrid between the species A. clypeolata and A. aegyptiaca var. taygetea. Calscape says its sterile so does it produce pollen?
Thanks for that note on taxonomy. It’s often difficult to find the parents of cultivars, I’ll make sure to look into ‘Moonshine’ more.
Sterility is achieved through multiple methods… some plants produce no pollen at all, some plants produce pollen that is sterile. We have seen Moonshine produce pollen and bees collect pollen from it! Cara’s research would be great to explore if pollen production and sterility something you’re interested in.
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