Doctoral Student Maureen Page: Impacts of Honey Bees Vs. Native Bees

Honey bees versus native bees. What are the impacts of honey bee introductions on the pollination of Camassia quamash, a Sierra wildflower? 

That's the topic that doctoral candidate and pollination ecologist Maureen Page of the Neal Williams lab, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, will explore when she addresses the Davis Botanical Society meeting, “How I Spent My Field Season” on Thursday Nov. 14.

The event takes place from 5 to 6 p.m. in Room 1022 of the Life Sciences Addition, corner of Hutchison and Kleiber Hall drives. Page, of the Entomology Graduate Group, and fellow speaker Emily Brodie of the Ecology Graduate Group, are recipients of Davis Botanical Society grants. Brodie, seeking her master's degree, will speak on “Patterns of Post-Fire Diversity and Regeneration in Subalpine Forests of California."

The wildflower that Page studies is a perennial herb, native to Western America. It's  commonly called camas, small camas, or quamash.

In her abstract, Page writes: "While many bee species are declining, managed species, such as honey bees, have been introduced into novel ecosystems across the globe. Many studies support the claim that introduced honey bees compete with native bees. However, less is known about how honey bee introductions will affect native plant populations. Increased pressure from beekeepers to place hives in National Parks and Forests combined with the potentially huge but poorly understood impacts that non-native honey bees have on native plant populations makes exploring impacts of honey bee introductions on native plant pollination of pressing concern.” 

The impact of honey bee introductions on the pollination and reproduction of the Sierra wildflower?  “A preliminary data analysis suggests that honey bee introductions lead to increased visitation by honey bees and decreased visitation by native bees," Page says. "Preliminary results also suggest that honey bees are ineffective pollinators of Camassia quamash and the replacement of native bee visits by honey bee visits leads to reduced seed set. This research demonstrates that species introductions can have negative effects on plant pollination when they lead to an over-representation of visits by ineffective pollinators."

Page focuses her research on pollination ecology and bee conservation in natural and agricultural landscapes. As part of her dissertation research, she studies the impacts of honey bee introductions on plant-pollinator interactions and the pollination of native plants. She is also working to optimize wildflower plantings to simultaneously enhance honey bee nutrition and maximize support of diverse bee communities while minimizing competition between native and managed pollinators. 

Last year Page received a prestigious three-year fellowship, a National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship, for her research proposal, “Promoting Food Security by Optimizing Wildflower Plantings to Support Wild and Managed Bees.” This highly competitive fellowship, funded by the Department of Defense, drew more than 3600 applicants. Maureen was one of 69 awardees.

The Nov. 14th event is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Teri Barry or Jennifer Poore at the UC Davis Center for Plant Diversity (530) 752-1091 or or