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Foraging honey bees (Apis mellifera L.) routinely travel as far as several kilometers from their hive in the process of collecting nectar and pollen from floral patches within the surrounding landscape. Since the availability of floral resources at the landscape scale is a function of landscape composition, apiculturists have long recognized that landscape composition is a critical determinant of honey bee colony success. Nevertheless, we are aware of no published studies that present quantitative data relating colony success metrics to local landscape composition. We employed a beekeeper survey in conjunction with GIS-based landscape analysis to model colony success as a function of landscape composition in the State of Ohio, USA, a region characterized by intensive cropland, urban development, deciduous forest, and grassland. We found that colony food accumulation and wax production were positively related to cropland and negatively related to forest and grassland, a pattern that may be driven by the abundance of dandelion and clovers in agricultural areas compared to forest or mature grassland. Colony food accumulation was also negatively correlated with the ratio of urban:crop area in sites dominated by urban and agricultural land cover, which does not support the popular opinion that the urban environment is more favorable to honey bees than cropland.
This is a submission to PeerJ for review.
S1: Spring survey
Full spring survey questionnaire filled out by beekeepers in our study.