Sunflower plantings reduce a common gut pathogen and increase queen production in bumble bee colonies

Rosemary L. Malfi, Quinn S. McFrederick, Giselle Lozano, Rebecca E. Irwin & Lynn Adler
We evaluated whether plantings of sunflower (Helianthus annuus), whose pollen reduces infection by some pathogens when fed to bees in captivity, lowered pathogen levels and increased reproduction in free-foraging bumble bee colonies (Bombus impatiens). We placed pairs of commercial colonies of B. impatiens at 20 mixed vegetable farms in western Massachusetts between Jul-23 and Oct-6 2019. Flowering resources typically visited by bumble bees were quantified at each farm twice to characterize abundance and diversity. We...
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