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Prof. Dr. Alexandra-Maria Klein
Tel: +49 (0)761 203-67770


Frau Ilona Winkler
Tel: +49 (0)761 203-3635
Fax: +49 (0)761 203-3638


Professur für Naturschutz
& Landschaftsökologie
Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg
Stefan-Meier-Str. 76
D-79104 Freiburg




Bestäubung von Nutzpflanzen 2017-2019

Global evaluation of bee attractiveness 

and apicultural relevance of agricultural crops (2017-19)




Prof. Dr. Alexandra-Maria Klein

Dr. Virginie Boreux

Dr. Felix Fornoff


Dr. Christian Maus, Dr. Juliane Jaramillo
Bayer CropScience, Deutschland




2017 -  2019



Bayer CropScience


This project is a collaboration between academia and the industry to get a better and detailed understanding of the pollination requirements of crops worldwide. It will also help identify knowledge gaps in pollination agro-ecology, and serve as a base for defining future research.  

Pollination is required for optimal production of about 75% of our global food crops (Klein et al. 2007), with an annual value of pollinators estimated at 153 billion EUR (Gallai et al. 2009). Bees, and among them honeybees (Apis mellifera L. In Europe, Apis cerana Fab. in Asia), are the main pollinating insects for most crops. Honey bees have been used widely due to their high numbers in colonies (up to 50’000 individuals per hive for Apis mellifera) as well as their value for honey production. Wild bees, in particular solitary bees, and other flower visitors such as flower flies, also contribute to the pollination of many crops directly and can sometimes provide insurance to crop production in times when honey bee colonies are weak or weather conditions unfavourable for honey bee flight (Brittain et al. 2013). 

In recent years, however, high levels of over-wintering colony losses in Apis mellifera took place in different places around the globe, and reports have been showing that wild bee population are decreasing in some places, although this is still under debate. These population losses have increase concerns that scarcity of pollinators will negatively affect food production worldwide. Although the role of pesticides is not yet fully understood, there is concern among researchers and the public that the use of pesticides and other agro-chemicals may be involved in the decline of pollinators and sudden losses of honey bees. With increasing human population, agriculture without agro-chemicals, either organic or not, will often not be an option for many production systems. Main producers of agro-chemicals like Bayer Crop Science take the responsibility to provide directions for adequate timing to use such agro-chemicals to control pest species while not affecting pollinators.  

In this project, we compile and summarize the existing knowledge to identify the main flower-visiting species and their impact on crop production. Information is collected for a list of 138 crop species grown worldwide, based on Klein et al. (2007) and the FAO database, mainly by surveying the scientific literature. For each crop, the following information is extracted: producing countries, varieties, breeding system (self and/or cross pollination), time of flowering, flower visitors and pollinators, product foraged by flower visitors (nectar and/or pollen), impact of flower visitors on crop production (fruit and seed set, fruit and seed weight), impact on honey production. Furthermore, information on pollination management practices is collected whenever available. 

Benefit for industry and farmers

The industry will have sound data available on insect populations benefiting crops, and will be able to devise more precise management guidelines for each crop. This is particularly crucial for chemical applications (e.g. insecticides, herbicides, fungicides), some of which are suspected to conflict with bee health. With these data (in particular flowering date and flower visitors), the industry can explain to the farmers when and when not to apply the products they are buying, in which crop. They can also inform farmers of the benefits of having flower visitors such as bees, bumble bees or syrphids, giving them precise figures about the expected income increase they can expect when managing for pollinators. This will foster the protection of flower-visitor populations and promoting collaboration between farmers and beekeepers.

Benefit for research

Academia will have the complete information from crop pollination research carried out during the last 100 years. The data can be used to conduct large-scale analyses across research study, research area, and crops, leading to detailed insights on the role of honeybees and wild pollinators. Moreover, we will be able to identify research gaps that need to be addressed in future projects.


Brittain, C., Kremen, C. & Klein, A.M. (2012): Biodiversity buffers pollination from changes in environmental conditions. Global Change Biology 19: 540–547.

Klein, A.M., Vaissière, B.E., Cane, J., Steffan-Dewenter, I., Cunningham, S.A., Kremen, C. & Tscharntke, T. (2007): Importance of pollinators in changing landscapes for world crops. The Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Series B 274: 303-313.

Gallai, N., Salles, J.M., Settele, J. & Vaissière B.E. (2009): Economic valuation of the vulnerability of world agriculture confronted with pollinator decline. Ecological economics 68: 810-821.




  • Klein, A.M., Fornoff, F., Mupepele, A.C., Boreux, V. & Pufal, G. (2018): Relevance of wild and managed bees for human well-being. Current Opinion in Insect Science 26: 82-88. Link


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