The importance of soil and vegetation characteristics for establishing ground-nesting bee aggregations




Hymenoptera, nest-site selection, solitary bees, pollination, ecosystem service


Most bee species are ground-nesters, yet knowledge on the nesting behaviour of this diverse group remains sparse. Evidence on the effectiveness of ground-nesting bee species as crop pollinators is growing, but there is limited information on their nesting habits and preferences and how to manage habitats to enhance populations on farms. In this study, artificially prepared plots of bare soil were constructed with the aim to attract ground-nesting bees to nest in a commercial orchard in Kent, UK. Nine soil parameters were measured to determine their preferred soil properties: hydraulic conductivity, soil compaction, soil moisture, soil temperature, soil stoniness, soil organic matter, soil root biomass, soil texture and vegetation cover. Eighteen non-parasitic ground-nesting bee species (7 Andrena, 9 Lasioglossum, 1 Halictus and 1 Colletes spp.) were recorded in the study plots. Soil stoniness and soil temperature at 10cm depth were positively correlated, and vegetation cover and hydraulic conductivity were negatively correlated with the number of ground-nesting bees on the plots. We show that artificially created habitats can be exploited for nesting by several ground-nesting bee species. This study’s findings can inform management practices to enhance ground-nesting bee populations in agricultural and urban areas.

Author Biographies

Konstantinos Tsiolis, University of Reading / NIAB EMR



Simon G. Potts, University of Reading

Professor of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services at Reading University, UK

Michael Garratt, University of Reading

Rank - Senior Research Fellow

Department - Sustainable Land Management

Emma L. Tilston, NIAB East Malling / Enviresearch Ltd.

Soil scientist / Environmental Fate Modeller and Risk Assessor


Joseph Burman, Canterbury Christ Church University

Science Lecturer

Naomi L.J. Rintoul-Hynes, Canterbury Christ Church University

Senior Lecturer   School of Psychology and Life Sciences

Michelle T. Fountain, NIAB East Malling

Head of Pest and Pathogen Ecology




How to Cite

Tsiolis, K., Potts, S. ., Garratt, M., Tilston, E., Burman, J., Rintoul-Hynes, N., & Fountain, M. (2022). The importance of soil and vegetation characteristics for establishing ground-nesting bee aggregations . Journal of Pollination Ecology, 32, 186–200.




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