Conservation of Pollinators
The following are the common ways to conserve pollinator populations
- In general, good beekeeping practices are the best prevention measures for bees from being attacked by its natural enemies.
- Apiary sites should be selected with much care. Habitats with strong winds, damp, unhygienic conditions and lack of food should be avoided.
- Monitoring the decline of bees in the colonies periodically and taking up suitable conservation measures help to conserve them.
- Reducing pesticide usage on crops especially during the flowering season to avoid pesticidal poisoning of bees. During insecticidal sprays, bee colonies must be protected against poisoning by pesticides. Farmers should also minimize pesticide drift from the field to adjacent non-target areas.
- Conservation of natural habitats, pollinator-friendly sites, gardens etc help the pollinators to shelter and survive on them. It is essential to locate the nesting sites of the common pollinator species and make efforts to conserve them.
- Non-Apis bees which are solitary in nature require entirely different kinds of nesting sites like dried stems, twigs, the ground surface without vegetation etc. Due to lack of awareness, these nesting sites are often disturbed and the bees are destroyed which needs to be avoided. Exposing the soft pith of plants by pruning of dried sticks and shoots help the stem-nesting bees to occupy those sticks. By this way, bees can be easily conserved in-situ.
Nesting sites of Braunsapis spp. and Ceratina spp. Nesting site of P. oxybeloides, a ground-nesting bee
- Maintenance of suitable bee flora and wild forage. Bee conservation and management by bee flora is inexpensive and such activities can also improve the aesthetic value of the landscape. Leaving a few patches of grasses and flowering plants in the borders of the farmland shall host all-year-round food resources for the bees, as well as safer sites for nesting, mating, and shelter, besides refuge from natural enemies.
- A study in Brazil showed that, cashew nut yield was highest when plantations bordered a small forest fragment and were close to a large forest fragment. Deforestation in the areas surrounding cashew plantations prevented effective pollinators from visiting cashew flowers led to a reduction in yield. Pollination deficit could cause low yields in cashew. It was concluded that the increasing number of wild pollinator visits will increase yield of cashew, for which proximity to large forest fragments is important.
- Timely management of pests, diseases and parasites of bees is essential to maintain population of bees. Though it is nearly impossible to keep honey bee colonies free of diseases and parasites for long periods of time, care must be taken to take up suitable control measures timely and maintain healthy vigorous colonies.
- Raising awareness among neighbours, farmers and others about the benefits of the bees will help them understand the importance of bees.
Artificial bee nests for wild bees, Braunsapis mixta
Artificial bee nests consist of small wooden blocks that have been developed at ICAR-DCR, Puttur for an important cashew pollinator viz., Braunsapis mixta. Wooden blocks with neat circular holes of 1.5 – 3.5 mm diameter and 6.00 cm deep attract these bees for their occupation. Besides, bundles of thin culms of bamboo and Johnson’s sp., and thin sticks of cashew and Lantana camara were made into cut pieces of 15 -20 cm length, also attract these bees, among, bamboo and Johnson’s sp. are most preferred by these bees. Apart from bees, several wasp species also occupy these nest holes which are predators of several pests. Thus, establishing such artificial bee nests could help in conserving these bees which in turn help in pollination of cashew and other plants.
Artificial bee nest for Braunsapis mixta
Occupation of nests by Braunsapis bees