Efforts to promote the future health of both wild bees and managed honeybee colonies need to consider specific habitat needs, such as the density of wildflowers.

At the same time, improving other habitat measures—such as the amount of natural habitat surrounding croplands—may increase bee diversity while having mixed effects on overall bee health.

Those are the key findings from a new analysis of several thousand Michigan bees from 60 species. The study looked at how the quality and quantity of bee habitat surrounding small farm fields affects the levels of common viral pathogens in bee communities.

“Future land management needs to consider that broadly improving habitat quality to benefit pollinator community diversity may not necessarily also benefit pollinator health,” said University of Michigan biologist Michelle Fearon, lead author of a study published online Nov. 30 in the journal Ecology. The other authors are from U-M and the University of Washington.