Wild pollinators enhance fruit set of crops regardless of honey bee abundance

Lucas A. Garibaldi*, Ingolf Steffan-Dewenter, Rachael Winfree, Marcelo A. Aizen, Riccardo Bommarco, Saul A. Cunningham, Claire Kremen, Luísa G. Carvalheiro, Lawrence D. Harder, Ohad Afik, Ignasi Bartomeus, Faye Benjamin, Virginie Boreux, Daniel Cariveau, Natacha P. Chacoff, Jan H. Dudenhöffer, Breno M. Freitas, Jaboury Ghazoul, Sarah Greenleaf, Juliana HipólitoAndrea Holzschuh, Brad Howlett, Rufus Isaacs, Steven K. Javorek, Christina M. Kennedy, Kristin M. Krewenka, Smitha Krishnan, Yael Mandelik, Margaret M. Mayfield, Iris Motzke, Theodore Munyuli, Brian A. Nault, Mark Otieno, Jessica Petersen, Gideon Pisanty, Simon G. Potts, Romina Rader, Taylor H. Ricketts, Maj Rundlöf, Colleen L. Seymour, Christof Schüepp, Hajnalka Szentgyörgyi, Hisatomo Taki, Teja Tscharntke, Carlos H. Vergara, Blandina F. Viana, Thomas C. Wanger, Catrin Westphal, Neal Williams, Alexandra M. Klein

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1686 Scopus citations


The diversity and abundance of wild insect pollinators have declined in many agricultural landscapes. Whether such declines reduce crop yields, or are mitigated by managed pollinators such as honey bees, is unclear. We found universally positive associations of fruit set with flower visitation by wild insects in 41 crop systems worldwide. In contrast, fruit set increased significantly with flower visitation by honey bees in only 14% of the systems surveyed. Overall, wild insects pollinated crops more effectively; an increase in wild insect visitation enhanced fruit set by twice as much as an equivalent increase in honey bee visitation. Visitation by wild insects and honey bees promoted fruit set independently, so pollination by managed honey bees supplemented, rather than substituted for, pollination by wild insects. Our results suggest that new practices for integrated management of both honey bees and diverse wild insect assemblages will enhance global crop yields.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1608-1611
Number of pages4
Issue number6127
StatePublished - 29 Mar 2013


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