Past and Present Management of Alfalfa Bees
There is a long history of the use of alfalfa by humans, including the intentional introduction of this forage crop from Eurasia to other continents. For producing alfalfa seeds, the management systems for two bee pollinators have been developed. Use of managed alkali bees, Nomia melanderi, and alfalfa leafcutting bees, Megachile rotundata, has made alfalfa seed production a viable industry. The management systems for both bee species require care and commitment for combating parasites, pests, and diseases, and for meeting proper environmental conditions. Although the emphasis on the use of alkali bees has diminished, the use of the alfalfa leafcutting bees remains popular. Concerns and new ideas surrounding the current and future use of these bee species as commercial pollinators are discussed.
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