Honey bee hives decrease wild bee abundance, species richness, and fruit count on farms regardless of wildflower strips


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Pollinator refuges such as wildflower strips are planted on farms with the goals of mitigating wild pollinator declines and promoting crop pollination services. It is unclear, however, whether or how these goals are impacted by managed honey bee (Apis mellifera L.) hives on farms. We examined how wildflower strips and honey bee hives and/or their interaction influence wild bee communities and the fruit count of two pollinator-dependent crops across 21 farms in the Mid-Atlantic U.S. Although wild bee species richness increased with bloom density within wildflower strips, populations did not differ significantly between farms with and without them whereas fruit counts in both crops increased on farms with wildflower strips during one of 2 years. By contrast, wild bee abundance decreased by 48%, species richness by 20%, and strawberry fruit count by 18% across all farm with honey bee hives regardless of wildflower strip presence, and winter squash fruit count was consistently lower on farms with wildflower strips with hives as well. This work demonstrates that honey bee hives could detrimentally affect fruit count and wild bee populations on farms, and that benefits conferred by wildflower strips might not offset these negative impacts. Keeping honey bee hives on farms with wildflower strips could reduce conservation and pollination services.