There is nothing about browsing though a magazine. There are some great beekeeping magazines, but what’s missing is a magazine devoted to pollinators more broadly. Enter 2 Million Blossoms, a new quarterly magazine launched in January. We talk to the Kirsten Traynor, the editor, about the magazine and how it aims to fill this gap. 

Dr. Kirsten Traynor describes herself as an: “English major, who won a honey bee hive in a raffle and never looked back.” She earned her PhD in bee biology and is currently investigate how pesticides and other stress factors impact the social dynamics in a colony. She is the former editor of Bee World and American Bee Journal. In January 2020, she took the leap and launched 2 Million Blossoms.

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When you think of a bee you probably think of an insect hard at work growing its nest and pollinating plants. But over 10% of bees are kleptoparasites; bees that don’t build their own nests, but are parasites on other bees. In this episode we learn the fundamentals of this highly-evolved and sophisticated way of living.  To help us understand the twists and turns of kleptoparastism we had one of our listeners, Casey Hale, join us. Casey is Research Technician in the Podeva and McArt Labs in the Department of Entomology at Cornell University.

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Many of us put mason bees out in our backyard or farm. But when they leave the nest, do you know where they are going to forage? In this episode we hear how a sleuthing graduate student in Seattle is beginning to piece together a picture of what resources these bees are actually using.

Lila Westreich is a PhD candidate at the University of Washington, Seattle, WA in the Department of Environment and Forest Sciences. She has a B.S. in Plant Breeding and Genetics from the University of Minnesota. Her research focuses on the effect of varying landscape composition on the solitary mason bee, Osmia lignaria. Her research with mason bees was previously featured on Episode 74.

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Hedgerows can be great ways to attract pollinators in agriculture and forestry settings. But how can such relatively small plantings impact pollinator abundance and diversity on larger scales? This week we dig deep into the science of how hedgerows contribute to pollinator health. 

Lauren Ponisio is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Entomology at the University Of Riverside and part of the Center for Integrative Bee Research (CIBER). Her lab focuses on understanding the mechanisms by which species interactions maintain species diversity, and how this information can harness these processes to manage and restore diversity in human-modified systems. The Ponisio Lab’s aim is to discover new insights into how communities form, evolve, and persist through time and space, aiding in the prediction and prevention of community collapse.

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Links:

Ponisio Lab
Center for Integrative Bee Research

Dr. Ponisio’s Book Recommendation: Bees of California: Art, Science, and Poetry
Dr. Ponisio’s Tool Recommendation: Killing jar bandolier
Dr. Ponisio’s Favorite Pollinator: Male sunflower bees (Melissodes), Megachile

Literacy on pollinator biology and ecology in the US is poor. But schools can be skittish about insects, especially bees, and teachers lack resources to make pollinator education come alive. This week we hear about an initiative that to get around these obstacles – The Bee Cause Project. 

Megan Swanson currently serves as the Programs Manager for The Bee Cause Project, an organization with the goal to create the next generation of environmental stewards through the lessons of our friends, the honeybees. She is a beekeeper, writer, and environmental advocate with the intention of helping people reconnect with their environment.  

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Bee Cause Project
Observation Hive
Karl von Frisch (The Dance Language and Orientation of Bees, 1967)
Megan’s Book Recommendation: Bees: A Honeyed History (Piotr Socha, 2017), Honey Bee Democracy (Tom Seeley)
Megan’s Tool Recommendation: Campus habitat
Megan’s Favorite Pollinator: Monarch Butterfly

What happened in 2019 when it came to Apiculture? We visit the Apiculture unit at Alberta Agriculture and Forestry in Lethbridge to find out. Hear about highlights from Apimonida, the introduction of an Asian giant hornet in Washington and BC and problems beekeepers have been having with European foulbrood. We are joined by Shelley Hoover, Jeff Kearns and Lynae Ovinge.

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Links:

Apimondia 2019
Gene Robinson Lab
Varroa destructor feeds primarily on honey bee fat body tissue and not hemolymph (Ramsey et al., PNAS, 2019)
Honey adulteration
Giant Asian Hornet Alert (Washington State Department of Agriculture)

People living in cities are confronted by a range of pest problems, some of which impact pollinator health. This week we hear about an initiative to make science-based information on managing these pests clearer, more intuitive and easy to find. 

Solve Pest Problems is an initiative under development at Oregon State University Extension to develop an educational resource in both English and Spanish for the general public on pest management. The initiative is led by Weston Miller, who is also guest this week. Since 2007, Weston has provided effective management and leadership for the Master Gardener (MG) program in Clackamas, Multnomah, and Washington counties. The MG program includes training over 175 volunteers per year in the process of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) to help answer over 60,000 questions from the general public annually. This outreach program includes teaching MG volunteers to use existing IPM resources from OSU and other credible sources. Weston enjoys gardening and hiking with his family in SW Portland.

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Links:

Solve Pest Problems (OSU Extension)
Weston’s Pollinator Resource: OSU Urban Ecology Lab
Weston’s Go-To-Tool: Cell phone – Solve Pest Problem will be available on your phone
Weston’s favorite pollinator species: Yarrow, Buckwheat and Phacelia

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