About

Goal

To increase vegetable production and quality in urban areas of Raleigh, NC using pollinator-friendly habitat. Through this research, we will determine the extent to which supplementary pollinator habitat can contribute to pollinator abundance/diversity and evaluate the impact on yield for two commonly planted food crops in community gardens.

Design

The study is being conducted at eight community gardens near Raleigh, NC. At each community garden, four vegetable crops have been transplanted into 3- 50 gallon stock containers. The food crop cultivars utilized in this study will be Sun Gold tomato, Sunrise Bumble Bee tomato, Costata Romanesco zucchini, Yellow Crookneck squash. All eight gardens will receive two man-made ‘bee hotels’ to attract cavity-nesting bees and provide nesting habitat to increase populations for the next growing season. At each of the four supplemented gardens,  approximately 100 wildflower plants will be planted in close proximity to the food crops. The pollinator habitat plants utilized for this study will be Sonja Sunflower, Sensation Mix cosmos, Lance-leaf Coreopsis, and Partridge Pea. The other four community gardens will receive no added wildflower plants. 

Data Collection

The pollinator community composition and fruiting quality of the food crops will be monitored throughout the growing period. Approximately every two weeks, the species and bloom period of supplemented and previously established pollinator habitat will be observed and recorded to quantify available pollinator resources. The abundance and diversity of the bee community at each garden will be compared. Visual sampling, including bee counts and functional trait grouping, will take place periodically on both the pollinator habitat and food crops. Bloom counts and flowering period will also be recorded for the food crops, along with dry weight at the conclusion of the study. Comparisons between similar crops grown in areas with and without additional pollinator habitat will determine the impact that additional pollinator habitat can have on the quality of common community garden crops. 

Stay tuned for updates!