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Peer-reviewed Article

Native bees are a rich natural resource in urban California gardens


Gordon W. Frankie, UC Berkeley
Robbin W. Thorp, UC Davis
Jennifer Hernandez, UC Berkeley
Mark Rizzardi, Humboldt State University
Barbara Ertter, UC Berkeley
Jaime C. Pawelek, UC Berkeley
Sara L. Witt, UC Berkeley
Mary Schindler, UC Berkeley
Rollin Coville, UC Berkeley
Victoria A. Wojcik, UC Berkeley

publication information

California Agriculture 63(3):113-120. DOI: 10.3733/ca.v063n03p113. July-September 2009.


Evidence is mounting that pollinators of crop and wildland plants are declining worldwide. Our research group at UC Berkeley and UC Davis conducted a 3-year survey of bee pollinators in seven cities from Northern California to Southern California. Results indicate that many types of urban residential gardens provide floral and nesting resources for the reproduction and survival of bees, especially a diversity of native bees. Habitat gardening for bees, using targeted ornamental plants, can predictably increase bee diversity and abundance, and provide clear pollination benefits.

author affiliations

G.W. Frankie is Professor, Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management, UC Berkeley; R.W. Thorp is Professor Emeritus, Department of Entomology, UC Davis; J. Hernandez is Ph.D. Researcher, Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management, UC Berkeley; M. Rizzardi is Professor, Department of Mathematics, Humboldt State University, UC Berkeley; B. Ertter is Curator Emeritus, Jepson Herbarium, UC Berkeley; J.C. Pawelek are Research Assistants, Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management, UC Berkeley; S.L. Witt are Research Assistants, Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management, UC Berkeley; M. Schindler are Research Assistants, Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management, UC Berkeley; R. Coville is Environmental Entomologist/Photographer, UC Berkeley; V.A. Wojcik is Graduate Researcher, Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management, UC Berkeley, All bee photos were taken by Rollin Coville.

author notes

We thank the California Agricultural Experiment Station for support of this research; Maggie Przybylski, Sue Holland, Katie Montgomery, Kristal Hinojosa and Kloie Karels for assistance in collecting bees and bee-frequency counts; and Peter Kevan for reading a draft of the manuscript. Finally, we thank the numerous gardeners, managers and directors of the gardens we monitored for their cooperation during survey periods.


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