Scientists in the U.S. are studying how native bees and honeybees interact, as well as the condition of native, wild bee populations. It is estimated that there were once as many as 1,600 native bee species in California alone; it is not known how many still exist. In 120 years, Illinois lost half of its wild bee species because of fewer wild flowering plants due to increased agriculture.
Hedgerows planted along farm fields may lure native bees back to these areas because there is more food for them more consistently not just when monocrops are in bloom. according to an article in Scientific American by Hilary Rosner.
Scientists hope that the hedgerows in a test area in California will also increase numbers and diversity of bees — not just suck them from elsewhere.
So far their studies show that honeybees become more effective pollinators of almond trees when various native bee species as well as blue orchard bees, another managed species, are present. (Perhaps having other bees around increases their competitive instincts!)
It is clear that monocropping and pollination of them with only honey bees is a doomed exercise. Monocrops need to have hedgerow breaks at regular intervals to attract other pollinating insects, as well as wildlife in order to be healthy. Having our industries dependent on trucked-in honey bees scarcely makes sense either.
For more information on this topic please see Hilary Rosner’s great article in Scientific American.com, September 2013, pp. 70-75.