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Bees -- Oregon, Pollinators -- Oregon, Gardens -- Oregon -- Portland Metropolitan Area, Urban gardens, Ecosystem services


Hedgerows, flowering strips, and natural areas that are adjacent to agricultural land have been shown to benefit crop production, via the provision of insect pollinators that pollinate crops. However, we do not yet know the extent to which bee habitat in the form of urban gardens might contribute to pollination services in surrounding crops. We explored whether gardens might provision pollinators to adjacent agricultural areas by sampling bees from gardens in the Portland, Oregon metropolitan area, and estimating typical foraging distances in the context of commercialand residential-scale pollination-dependent crops up to 1000 m from garden study sites. We estimate that garden bees could forage outside of the garden in which they were collected, and that when pollination-dependent crops (commercial-scale or residential-scale) are nearby, 30–50% of the garden bee community could potentially provide pollination services to adjacent crops, if urban bees readily cross boundaries and forage among habitat types. Urban gardens might thus be well-positioned to provision neighboring farms and food gardens with pollination services, or could serve as a refuge for pollinators when forage is scarce or crop management practices are inhospitable. The actual capacity of gardens to serve as a refuge for pollinators from agricultural fields depends upon the extent to which bees forage across habitat types. However, relatively little is known about the degree to which bees move among habitat patches in heterogeneous landscapes. We thus propose a research agenda that can document the extent to which gardens contribute to pollinator health and pollination services at the interface of urban, peri-urban, and rural landscapes. In particular, more data is needed on how landscape context impedes or promotes garden bee movement between habitat types.


Originally appeared in Sustainability, vol. 10, no. 6 (2018). May be found at

© 2018 The Authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (



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