OPEN PloS one | 9 Dec 2017
RE Mallinger, HR Gaines-Day and C Gratton
Managed bees are critical for crop pollination worldwide. As the demand for pollinator-dependent crops increases, so does the use of managed bees. Concern has arisen that managed bees may have unintended negative impacts on native wild bees, which are important pollinators in both agricultural and natural ecosystems. The goal of this study was to synthesize the literature documenting the effects of managed honey bees and bumble bees on wild bees in three areas: (1) competition for floral and nesting resources, (2) indirect effects via changes in plant communities, including the spread of exotic plants and decline of native plants, and (3) transmission of pathogens. The majority of reviewed studies reported negative effects of managed bees, but trends differed across topical areas. Of studies examining competition, results were highly variable with 53% reporting negative effects on wild bees, while 28% reported no effects and 19% reported mixed effects (varying with the bee species or variables examined). Equal numbers of studies examining plant communities reported positive (36%) and negative (36%) effects, with the remainder reporting no or mixed effects. Finally, the majority of studies on pathogen transmission (70%) reported potential negative effects of managed bees on wild bees. However, most studies across all topical areas documented the potential for impact (e.g. reporting the occurrence of competition or pathogens), but did not measure direct effects on wild bee fitness, abundance, or diversity. Furthermore, we found that results varied depending on whether managed bees were in their native or non-native range; managed bees within their native range had lesser competitive effects, but potentially greater effects on wild bees via pathogen transmission. We conclude that while this field has expanded considerably in recent decades, additional research measuring direct, long-term, and population-level effects of managed bees is needed to understand their potential impact on wild bees.
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