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!