Non-bee insects are important contributors to global crop pollination

Romina Rader*, Ignasi Bartomeus, Lucas A. Garibaldi, Michael P.D. Garratt, Brad G. Howlett, Rachael Winfree, Saul A. Cunningham, Margaret M. Mayfield, Anthony D. Arthur, Georg K.S. Andersson, Riccardo Bommarco, Claire Brittain, Luísa G. Carvalheiro, Natacha P. Chacoff, Martin H. Entling, Benjamin Foully, Breno M. Freitas, Barbara Gemmill-Herren, Jaboury Ghazoul, Sean R. GriffinCaroline L. Gross, Lina Herbertsson, Felix Herzog, Juliana Hipólito, Sue Jaggar, Frank Jauker, Alexandra Maria Klein, David Kleijn, Smitha Krishnan, Camila Q. Lemos, Sandra A.M. Lindström, Yael Mandelik, Victor M. Monteiro, Warrick Nelson, Lovisa Nilsson, David E. Pattemore, Natália De O. Pereira, Gideon Pisanty, Simon G. Potts, Menno Reemer, Maj Rundlöf, Cory S. Sheffield, Jeroen Scheper, Christof Schüepp, Henrik G. Smith, Dara A. Stanley, Jane C. Stout, Hajnalka Szentgyörgyi, Hisatomo Taki, Carlos H. Vergara, Blandina F. Viana, Michal Woyciechowski

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

611 Scopus citations


Wild andmanaged bees arewell documented as effective pollinators of global crops of economic importance. However, the contributions by pollinators other than bees have been little explored despite their potential to contribute to crop production and stability in the face of environmental change. Non-bee pollinators include flies, beetles, moths, butterflies, wasps, ants, birds, and bats, among others. Here we focus on non-bee insects and synthesize 39 field studies from five continents that directly measured the crop pollination services provided by non-bees, honey bees, and other bees to compare the relative contributions of these taxa. Non-bees performed 25-50% of the total number of flower visits. Although non-bees were less effective pollinators than bees per flower visit, they made more visits; thus these two factors compensated for each other, resulting in pollination services rendered by non-bees that were similar to those provided by bees. In the subset of studies that measured fruit set, fruit set increased with non-bee insect visits independently of bee visitation rates, indicating that non-bee insects provide a unique benefit that is not provided by bees. We also show that non-bee insects are not as reliant as bees on the presence of remnant natural or seminatural habitat in the surrounding landscape. These results strongly suggest that non-bee insect pollinators play a significant role in global crop production and respond differently than bees to landscape structure, probably making their crop pollination services more robust to changes in land use. Non-bee insects provide a valuable service and provide potential insurance against bee population declines.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)146-151
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number1
StatePublished - 5 Jan 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Data collection was funded by a University of New England seed grant (to R.R.). I.B. was supported by European Union Project BeeFun PCIG14-GA-2013-631653; L.A.G. was supported by Universidad Nacional de Río Negro Grant PI 40-B-399 and Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas Resolución 3260/14, Expediente 3207/14; A.-M.K. and C.B. were supported by the German Science Foundation; D.K., M. Reemer, and J.S. were supported by the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs Grants BO- 11-011.01-011 and KB-14-003-006; L.G.C. D.K., J.S., R.B., H.S., M.W., M. Rundlöf, and S.G.P. were supported by the European Community''s Seventh Framework Programme FP7/2007-2013 under Grant Agreement 244090, Status and Trends of European Pollinators; H.S. and M.W. were supported by European Community''s Sixth Framework Programme under Grant Agreement GOCE-CT- 2003-506675, Assessing Large Scale Risks for Biodiversity with Tested Methods Project; S.A.M.L. was supported the Swedish Farmers'' Foundation for Agricultural Research and the Swedish Board of Agriculture; M.P.D.G. and S.G.P. were supported by a grant from Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, Defra, the Natural Environment Research Council, the Scottish Government, and the Wellcome Trust under the UK Insect Pollinators Initiative; H.G.S. and R.B. were supported by the Swedish Research Council for Environment, Agricultural Sciences and Spatial Planning; C.S. was supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation under Grant 3100A0-127632 (FRAGMENT) to F.H. and M.H.E.; J.C.S. and D.A.S. were supported by Irish Environmental Protection Agency Grant EPA 2007-B-CD-1-S1 under the Sectoral Impacts on Biodiversity and Ecosystems Services (SIMBIOSYS) project; B.M.F. and L.G.C. were supported by National Council for Scientific and Technological Development-Brasília Research Grants 05126/2013-0 and 300005/2015-6, respectively; Y.M. and G.P.were supported by The Israel Science Foundation; S.K. was supported by The North- South Centre, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich; B.F.V. and J.H. were supported by the Ministry of the Environment and the Brazilian Research Council; and the study on Highland coffee was supported by Grant SEMARNATCONACyT 2002-C01-0194 from Mexico''s Environmental Ministry (to C.H.V.). H.T. was supported by the Global Environment Research Fund (E-0801 and S-9) of the Ministry of the Environment, Japan. Funding for kiwi in New Zealand provided by the Thomas J. Watson Foundation (to M.M.M.). B.G.H. and D.E.P. were supported by Ministry for Business Innovation and Employment (C11X1309).


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