During bloom of spring orchard crops, bees are the primary providers of pollination service. Monitoring these insects for research projects is often done by timed observations or by direct aerial netting, but there has been increasing interest in blue vane traps as an efficient passive approach to collecting bees. Over multiple spring seasons in Michigan and Pennsylvania, orchards were monitored for wild bees using timed netting from crop flowers and blue vane traps. This revealed a distinctly different community of wild bees captured using the two methods, suggesting that blue vane traps can complement but cannot replace direct aerial netting. The bee community in blue vane traps was generally composed of nonpollinating species, which can be of interest for broader biodiversity studies. In particular, blue vane traps caught Eucera atriventris (Smith), Eucera hamata (Bradley), Bombus fervidus (F.), and Agapostemon virescens (F.) that were never collected from the orchard crop flowers during the study period. Captures of bee species in nets was generally stable across the 3 yr, whereas we observed significant declines in the abundance of Lasioglossum pilosum (Smith) and Eucera spp. trapped using blue vane traps during the project, suggesting local overtrapping of reproductive individuals. We conclude that blue vane traps are a useful tool for expanding insights into bee communities within orchard crop systems, but they should be used with great caution to avoid local extirpation of these important insects.
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Vol. 46 • No. 3