Patch utilization and flower visitations by wild bees in a honey bee-dominated, grassland landscape.
Understanding habitat needs and patch utilization of wild and managed bees has been identified as a national research priority in the United States. We used occupancy models to investigate patterns of bee use across 1030 transects spanning a gradient of floral resource abundance and richness and distance from apiaries in the Prairie Pothole Region (PPR) of the United States. Estimates of transect use by honey bees were nearly 1.0 during our 3.5-month sampling period, suggesting honey bees were nearly ubiquitous across transects. Wild bees more frequently used transects with higher flower richness and more abundant flowers; however, the effect size of the native flower abundance covariate (= 3.90 ± 0.65 [1SE]) was four times greater than the non-native flower covariate (= 0.99 ± 0.17). We found some evidence that wild bee use was lower at transects near commercial apiaries, but the effect size was imprecise (= 1.4 ± 0.81). Honey bees were more frequently detected during sampling events with more non-native flowers and higher species richness but showed an uncertain relationship with native flower abundance. Of the 4039 honey bee and flower interactions, 85% occurred on non-native flowers, while only 43% of the 738 wild bee observations occurred on non-native flowers. Our study suggests wild bees and honey bees routinely use the same resource patches in the PPR but often visit different flowering plants. The greatest potential for resource overlap between honey bees and wild bees appears to be for non-native flowers in the PPR. Our results are valuable to natural resource managers tasked with supporting habitat for managed and wild pollinators in agroecosystems.