The Pacific Northwest got not just one, but two great pollinator positions in 2019. Claire Kremen has moved her lab from Berkeley to the University of British Columbia and Corin Pease is the new regional Pollinator Conservation Planner at Xerces. In this show we hear about these new programs and what they have planned for 2020. 

Claire Kremen is President’s Excellence Chair In Biodiversity with a joint appointment in IRES and Zoology at University of British Columbia.  She is an ecologist and applied conservation biologist working on how to reconcile agricultural land use with biodiversity conservation.  Current research questions in her lab include: How do different forms of agricultural land management influence long-term persistence of wildlife populations by promoting or curtailing dispersal movements and population connectivity?  Specifically, can diversified, agroecological farming systems promote species dispersal and survival?  How do different types of farming systems affect ecosystem services, yields, profitability, sustainability and livelihoods?  How do we design sustainable landscapes that promote biodiversity while providing for people? 

Corin Pease is the provides technical assistance to growers and USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Conservation Planners on pollinator and natural enemy conservation on farms in the Pacific Northwest. He holds a master’s degree in integrated pest management and a bachelor’s degree in environmental biology from the University of California–Davis. Corin’s experience spans agriculture, entomology, and integrated pest management (IPM). As a researcher, Corin has studied insects associated with native hedgerows, conservation biological control, and pest management in tomatoes, grapes, almonds, and strawberries in California. Before coming to Xerces, Corin was a crop consultant in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, advising berry growers on pest management and crop nutrition.

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Links:

Kremen Lab (University of British Columbia)
Xerces Society of Invertebrate Conservation
Pollinator and Beneficial Insects for Mid-Columbia Basin Fruit Crops (NRCS)

Alfalfa leafcutting bees don’t get the attention of honey bees, but they are also a remarkable example of how people have learned to manage a bee species. It’s often hard to get details about this industry, but this week we bring you an inside scoop from one of the industry’s gurus – Weldon Hobbs – whose dad helped found the industry in Western Canada. 

Weldon and BJ run MR Pollination Services in Lethbridge, Alberta Canada. He has been involved with alfalfa leafcutter bee production since 1962. Not only are these bees used right across the US and Canadian West to pollinate alfalfa seed, they are increasingly used to pollinate other crops such as hybrid canola seed, lowbush blueberries and cranberries. Weldon’s dad, Gordon, helped start the alfalfa leafcutter bee industry in Western Canada, was a renown bumble bee researcher and (to my delight) completed his PhD at OSU!

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Links Mentioned:

Alberta Alfalfa Seed Commission

Oregon’s bumble bees are all hibernating. Mated bumble bee queen are known to winter in loose soil or leaf litter, but we don’t know much more beyond that. This week we talk with Rich Hatfield about a new community science initiative called Queen Quest, to learn more about the wintering requirements of bumble bees.  We also catch up with Rich about BOMBUSS 2.0 (a bumble bee conference held last month in Toronto), Year 2 of the PNW Bumble Bee Atlas and the launch of a new bumble bee Atlas in Nebraska.

Rich Hatfield is a senior conservation biologist for the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation. He has authored several publications on bumble bees, including a set of management guidelines entitled Conserving Bumble Bees. He serves as the Red List Authority for the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) Bumble Bee Specialist Group and has taught bumble bee management and identification courses in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, California, and Massachusetts. Rich helped develop and launch the citizen science website Bumble Bee Watch, which has attracted over 18,000 users throughout North America, and gathered over 30,000 photo observations of North American bumble bees since 2014. Bumble Bee Watch now serves as the platform to collect data for the Pacific Northwest Bumble Bee Atlas for which he is the principal investigator. In addition to his work with bumble bees, Rich has investigated native bee pollination in agricultural systems in the Central Valley of California, and studied endangered butterflies in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado and throughout the Pacific Northwest.

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Links Mentioned:

Queen Quest

Bombus kirbiellus – the high altitude bumble bee found in Washington

Nebraska Bumble Bee Atlas

Ever heard the term “native beekeeper” before? Me neither, until I talked with Gregory Lynch from the Miel Montréal Co-op. In this episode he explains how the Co-op has developed a wide range of educational services that goes beyond (honey bee) beekeeping, to promoting native bees and urban biodiversity more generally.

The mission of Miel Montréal Co-op is to develop and provide, within a concerted framework, educational services related to bees and more generally biodiversity in the city, as well as support to the beekeeping community.

Gregory is a trainer and beekeeper with Miel Montreal and has had the opportunity to work with bees of all sorts in Eastern Canada, Central America and West Africa. Gregory has a masters from the University of Luxembourg in sustainable development, he has over 10 years of experience in animation with non-profitable organizations, companies, families, farms and students from all ages. Currently Gregory runs Mantis environmental, a small business focused on training and consulting in sustainable development.

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Links Mentioned:

Coopérative de solidarité Miel Montréal

Gregory’s Favorite Book: L’abeille et la ruche (Alain Péricard, 2019)

Gregory’s Go-To Tool: Transparent vial for showing bees to people

Gregory’s Favorite Pollinator: Green metallic sweat bees (because its easy for beginners to see)

In this episode we take a stroll through the tradeshow at the world’s largest beekeeping conference, Apimondia, which was held in Montreal, Canada in September. In this episode you’ll hear about a machine that can turn 1000lbs of liquid honey into velvety-creamed honey, the latest in varroa control, styrofoam hive equipment and tips on how to re-use plastic foundation. 
Booths I visited included:
British Columbia Honey Producers Association (Dan Mason, Canada)
Karl Jenter GmbH (Klaus Wallner, Germany)
CreamPAL (Quebec, Canada)
– Neil Specht, Sweetheart Pollinators (Saskachewan, Canada)
– Korea Beekeeping Association (South Korea)
– Chilean Beekeeper Federation (who won the bid for Apimondia 2023)
Honey Bee Research Center (Paul Kelly, University of Guelph, Canada)
Pierco (John Caron, USA)
Betterbee (John Rath, USA)
Vita Bee Health (Max Watkins, UK)

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Roads crisis-cross the state of Oregon, making roadsides an appealing focus for creating an interconnected network of pollinator habitat. But roadside habitat has to fit within the constraints faced by Departments of Transports. In this episode we hear about some of those constraints and successes achieved by Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT).  

Our guest this week is Robert Marshall, who is the Roadside Development and Landscape Architecture Program Lead for ODOT. He is also a member of ODOT’s Pollinator Task Force.

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Links:

How ODOT Helps Protect Pollinator Habitat (Brochure)

Robert’s book recommendation: Natural vegetation of Oregon and Washington (Franklin and Dyrness, 1973)

Robert’s go-to-tool: USDA NRCS Plant Database

Robert’s favorite pollinator species: Yucca whipplei and the yucca moth

There is a lot of ground under solar panels that could be planted to pollinator habitat. In this episode guest host Maggie Graham (MSc candidate, Water Resources Science, OSU) talks with John Jacob, a Southern Oregon beekeeper, who has been working with solar panel companies to make sure new installations include habitat for bees.

John has run Old Sol Apiaries in Medford, Oregon since 1997. He is also the current President of Oregon State Beekeepers Association.

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Links:

Nation’s largest solar bee farm in Oregon (Bee Culture, July 26, 2018)
Pine Gate Renewables
Old Sol Apiaries
John’s favorite book: Seeley, Thomas D. Honeybee democracy. Princeton University Press, 2010.
John’s go-to-tool: Pro Lifter Hive Tool
John’s favorite pollinator: honey bee

ow important are trees to the health of bees? In many cases we don’t know because trees are a lot bigger than us. That doesn’t stop our next guest from scaling into the canopy for her research. This week we feature PhD Candidate Kass Urban-Mead. 

Kass is working on PhD in Entomology at Cornell University. She is interested in wild bee biology, conservation, and sustainable agriculture. She thinks wild bees are top-notch because not only are they endlessly fascinating critters biologically, but an accessible entry point for connecting with people of all backgrounds about our interconnected global ecological web. Her research focuses on wild bee populations in forests and orchards, and how bees differently use these habitats over time and space. Specifically, she explores the often overlooked canopy resources and vertical habitat spatial use. Kass spends a lot of time on local farms, and ultimately hopes her research will contribute to forest management recommendations to support important agricultural pollinators. When not in the woods, Kass is singing shape note or coaching kids’ roller derby. Long term, she is interested in a career at the intersection of outreach, extension, and policy.

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Links Mentioned:

Kass’ website
The McArt Lab (Cornell University)
The Danforth Lab (Cornell University)
Kass’ Book Recommendation: Danforth, B.N., R.L. Minckley, J.L. Neff (2019). The Solitary Bees: Biology, Evolution, Conservation. Princeton University Press
Kass’ Go to Tool: Big Shot Sligshot (video demonstration)
Kass’ Favorite Bee: Andrena (University of Minnesota video) and Nomada

https://kassurbanmead.com/

Pollinating crops can be difficult on honey bees. Since 2014, the California Almond Board has been working with beekeepers, pest control advisors and groups like Project ApisM to come up with standards (Best Management Practices, BMPs) to increase the health of bees in California Almonds. This week we talk with former Director, Agricultural Affairs, Almond Board of California (ABC), Bob Curtis, about how the BMPs were developed and how effective they have been to help bees during pollination. 

Bob has had an productive career with the Almond Board, and, in fact, still works with the Almond Board as a consultant. In 2013, Bob was awarded the UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CA&ES) Award of Distinction, which recognized his work as a liaison for the betterment of partnerships between the almond industry and the agricultural research community. In 2018, He received the Eric Mussen Distinguised Service Award from the California Beekeepers Association and in 2019, Friend of the Industry Award from the American Honey Producers Association. He has served on several advisory groups, including the UC Davis CA&ES Dean’s Advisory Council. Bob received his master’s in agricultural entomology from UC Riverside and a bachelors in zoology from UC Los Angeles.

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Links Mentioned:

Honey Bee Best Management Practices (Almond Board of California)

Learning the bees of your local area can be a daunting task. Most guides and keys, for example, include bees that don’t even exist where you live, and are packed with hard-to-understand terminology. This week we talk to August Jackson, who has come up with a solution – a concise guide to the bees of the Willamette Valley (The Bees of the Willamette Valley: A comprehensive guide to the genera). August is the Interpretation Coordinator at Mount Pisgah Arboretum, helping to develop the Arboretum’s interpretive exhibits and adult educational programming. He has been studying and photographing bees and other pollinating insects in the region for over five years, and his photographs have appeared in a number of publications. August regularly teaches classes and delivers talks on pollination ecology and bee identification around the state. Most recently, he is assisting with the Oregon Bee Project in teaching basic bee taxonomy to volunteers conducting a statewide census of Oregon’s bee species.

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Links Mentioned:

The Bees of the Willamette Valley: A comprehensive guide to the genera (2019)
August on Instagram
August’s book pick: The Bees in Your Backyard (Wilson and Messinger Carril, 2015), Bees of the World (Michener)
August’s go-to-tool: Canon 80D camera, Canon Speedlight Flash
August’s favorite bee picture: Nomada and Chelostoma