The planting of flowering summer cover crops in vineyards can be used to support populations of wild bees and could be a useful strategy for growers interested in pollinator health as part of a broader agenda supporting agricultural sustainability, according to an article co-authored by UH West Oʻahu’s Dr. Albie Miles.
Miles, along with five colleagues with expertise in insect ecology, noted that global pollinator populations have recently declined, due in part to agricultural expansion, habitat loss and intensification of farming systems. Much scientific research is now being devoted to understanding strategies for the conservation of bees and other pollinators in agricultural landscapes. The authors studied how the planting of flowering summer cover crops influence the abundance and diversity of wild bees on farms that grow self-pollinating crops, i.e. don’t require animals for pollination.
The results of their work was recently published online by Environmental Entomology, a publication of the Oxford University Press focused on insect ecology and biological control. “Summer Flowering Cover Crops Support Wild Bees in Vineyards,” measured the impact of planting flowering cover crops such as Phacelia tanacetifolia (Hydrophyllaceae), and Ammi majus (Apiaceae) in alternate rows of vineyards. The researchers found the action significantly increased the abundance and diversity of wild bees in the vineyards.
“These findings indicate that summer flowering cover crops can be used to support wild bees and this could be a useful strategy for grape growers interested in pollinator conservation as part of a broader farmscape sustainability agenda,” the authors noted.
Miles, an assistant professor of Sustainable Community Food Systems, researched the article with Houston Wilson of the University of California, Riverside; Jessica S. Wong of Oregon State University; Robbin W. Thorp of the University of California, Davis; Kent M. Daane and Miguel A. Alteri of the University of California, Berkeley.
Dr. Miles’ research explores the relationship between farming system biodiversity and ecosystem services from agriculture and the structural obstacles to more sustainable food and farming systems.