Urban gardens may preserve biodiversity as urban population densities increase, but this strongly depends on the characteristics of the gardens and the landscapes in which they are embedded. We investigated whether local and landscape characteristics are important correlates of bee (Hymenoptera: Apiformes) abundance and species richness in urban community gardens. We worked in 19 gardens in the California central coast and sampled bees with aerial nets and pan traps. We measured local characteristics (i.e., vegetation and ground cover) and used the USGS National Land Cover Database to classify the landscape surrounding our garden study sites at 2 km scales. We classified bees according to nesting type (i.e., cavity, ground) and body size and determined which local and landscape characteristics correlate with bee community characteristics. We found 55 bee species. One landscape and several local factors correlated with differences in bee abundance and richness for all bees, cavity-nesting bees, ground-nesting bees, and different sized bees. Generally, bees were more abundant and species rich in bigger gardens, in gardens with higher floral abundance, less mulch cover, more bare ground, and with more grass. Medium bees were less abundant in sites surrounded by more medium intensity developed land within 2 km. The fact that local factors were generally more important drivers of bee abundance and richness indicates a potential for gardeners to promote bee conservation by altering local management practices. In particular, increasing floral abundance, decreasing use of mulch, and providing bare ground may promote bees in urban gardens.
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Vol. 45 • No. 3