By Lori Spears, Ph.D.
Bees are important ecosystem service providers, but unfortunately some species and populations are in decline due to factors such as habitat loss, pests, pathogens, climate change, and improper pesticide use. Consequently, there has been a push to monitor bee populations to identify and protect species and communities that are most at risk. Methods used to monitor bees include pan traps, vane traps, and active sampling with nets, where the former two use visual stimuli to mimic natural cues used by bees to locate floral resources. Unfortunately, bees are also frequently captured in traps intended for pest insects due to an overlap in attraction to diverse stimuli.
In, “A Review of Bee Captures in Pest Monitoring Traps and Future Directions for Research and Collaboration,” published last week in the open-access Journal of Integrated Pest Management, my colleagues Morgan Christman, Jonathan Koch, Ph.D., Chris Looney, Ph.D., Ricardo Ramirez, Ph.D., and I highlight the biological and ecological reasons for bee captures in pest traps as well as concerns surrounding bee bycatch, such as the potential capture of threatened and endangered bee species and reduced trap efficacy. We also discuss how some trapping protocols have evolved to support increased target pest captures and reduced bee bycatch and how these practices may change or improve in the future to better meet these goals.