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Renner, Susanne S.; Graf, Marie Sophie; Hentschel, Zoe; Krause, Helen and Fleischmann, Andreas (2021): High honeybee abundances reduce wild bee abundances on flowers in the city of Munich. In: Oecologia, Vol. 195, No. 3: pp. 825-831

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Abstract

The increase in managed honeybees (Apis mellifera) in many European cities has unknown effects on the densities of wild bees through competition. To investigate this, we monitored honeybees and non-honeybees from 01 April to 31 July 2019 and 2020 at 29 species of plants representing diverse taxonomic and floral-functional types in a large urban garden in the city of Munich in which the same plant species were cultivated in both years. No bee hives were present in the focal garden, and all bee hives in the adjacent area were closely monitored by interviewing the relevant bee keepers in both 2019 and 2020. Honeybee numbers were similar in April of both years, but increased from May to July 2020 compared to 2019. The higher densities correlated with a significant increase in shifts from wild bee to honeybee visits in May/June/July, while visitor spectra in April 2019 and 2020 remained the same. Most of the species that experienced a shift to honeybee visits in 2020 were visited mostly or exclusively for their nectar. There were no shifts towards increased wild bee visits in any species. These results from a flower-rich garden have implications for the discussion of whether urban bee keeping might negatively impact wild bees. We found clear support that high honeybee densities result in exploitative competition at numerous types of flowers.

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