Non-bee insects are important contributors to global crop pollination

Romina Rader*, Ignasi Bartomeus, Lucas A. Garibaldi, Michael P.D. Garratt, Brad G. Howlett, Rachael Winfree, Saul A. Cunningham, Margaret M. Mayfield, Anthony D. Arthur, Georg K.S. Andersson, Riccardo Bommarco, Claire Brittain, Luísa G. Carvalheiro, Natacha P. Chacoff, Martin H. Entling, Benjamin Foully, Breno M. Freitas, Barbara Gemmill-Herren, Jaboury Ghazoul, Sean R. GriffinCaroline L. Gross, Lina Herbertsson, Felix Herzog, Juliana Hipólito, Sue Jaggar, Frank Jauker, Alexandra Maria Klein, David Kleijn, Smitha Krishnan, Camila Q. Lemos, Sandra A.M. Lindström, Yael Mandelik, Victor M. Monteiro, Warrick Nelson, Lovisa Nilsson, David E. Pattemore, Natália De O. Pereira, Gideon Pisanty, Simon G. Potts, Menno Reemer, Maj Rundlöf, Cory S. Sheffield, Jeroen Scheper, Christof Schüepp, Henrik G. Smith, Dara A. Stanley, Jane C. Stout, Hajnalka Szentgyörgyi, Hisatomo Taki, Carlos H. Vergara, Blandina F. Viana, Michal Woyciechowski

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Wild andmanaged bees arewell documented as effective pollinators of global crops of economic importance. However, the contributions by pollinators other than bees have been little explored despite their potential to contribute to crop production and stability in the face of environmental change. Non-bee pollinators include flies, beetles, moths, butterflies, wasps, ants, birds, and bats, among others. Here we focus on non-bee insects and synthesize 39 field studies from five continents that directly measured the crop pollination services provided by non-bees, honey bees, and other bees to compare the relative contributions of these taxa. Non-bees performed 25-50% of the total number of flower visits. Although non-bees were less effective pollinators than bees per flower visit, they made more visits; thus these two factors compensated for each other, resulting in pollination services rendered by non-bees that were similar to those provided by bees. In the subset of studies that measured fruit set, fruit set increased with non-bee insect visits independently of bee visitation rates, indicating that non-bee insects provide a unique benefit that is not provided by bees. We also show that non-bee insects are not as reliant as bees on the presence of remnant natural or seminatural habitat in the surrounding landscape. These results strongly suggest that non-bee insect pollinators play a significant role in global crop production and respond differently than bees to landscape structure, probably making their crop pollination services more robust to changes in land use. Non-bee insects provide a valuable service and provide potential insurance against bee population declines.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)146-151
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number1
StatePublished - 5 Jan 2016


FundersFunder number
European Community''s Seventh Framework Programme FP7/2007
European Community''s Sixth Framework ProgrammeGOCE-CT- 2003-506675
Global Environment Research FundE-0801, S-9
National Council for Scientific and Technological Development-Brasília Research05126/2013-0, 300005/2015-6
North- South Centre
Swedish Board of Agriculture
Swedish Farmers'' Foundation for Agricultural Research
Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich
Thomas J. Watson Foundation
Wellcome Trust
Seventh Framework Programme244090, 631653
Scottish Government
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
Natural Environment Research Council
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, UK Government
European CommissionPCIG14-GA-2013-631653
Environmental Protection AgencyEPA 2007-B-CD-1-S1
Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft
Schweizerischer Nationalfonds zur Förderung der Wissenschaftlichen Forschung3100A0-127632
University of New England
Svenska Forskningsrådet Formas
Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas3260/14
Ministerie van Economische ZakenBO- 11-011.01-011, KB-14-003-006
Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e TecnológicoSEMARNATCONACyT 2002-C01-0194
Israel Science Foundation
Ministry for Business Innovation and EmploymentC11X1309
Ministry of the Environment, Government of Japan
Universidad Nacional de Río NegroPI 40-B-399


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