Aaron Anderson on PolliNation with Andony Melathopoulos

In this episode, Aaron Anderson, a Ph.D. student in the OSU Department of Horticulture, talks about his research on gardening with native plants. Under the direction of Dr. Gail Langellotto, Aaron is researching native plants that support ecosystem services; that gardeners find attractive, and that they would want.

Currently, Aaron is running a large field trial at OSU’s North Willamette Research Center studying 23 native Willamette Valley wildflower species. Aaron monitors the floral bloom, performs timed pollinator observations, and samples the insect community on each plot. Additionally, he is currently asking gardeners to rank the aesthetics of these flowers via an online survey. From this research, Aaron plans on developing pollinator-friendly planting lists of PNW native wildflowers that are also attractive to home gardeners.

Listen in to learn what native plants are best for your garden, both for increasing the health of local pollinators and adding beauty to your garden.

You can Subscribe and Listen to PolliNation on Apple Podcasts.

And be sure to leave us a Rating and Review!

“There have been very few studies that have been done on the relative attractiveness of different plants to pollinators, especially in a garden-type setting.” – Aaron Anderson

Show Notes:

  • What makes a study like Aaron’s necessary, even with the abundance of free information online
  • Why there is no “superplant” for pollinator gardens
  • Why Aaron chose to study native plants in garden spaces for increasing the health of pollinators
  • How Aaron crafted his study, and what steered his decisions
  • Why the results of two similar studies on the most attractive plants to pollinators came out so different
  • Why native plants are so crucial in attracting honeybees
  • Which plants were found to be the top five for attracting pollinators to your garden
  • How Aaron sees less aesthetically desirable plants adding to the beauty of your garden
  • How the market is shifting from purely aesthetic decisions for gardens towards more functional ideas
  • What’s next for Aaron and his research
  • How you can tell a honeybee apart from other bees

“The nice thing about a lot of these annuals is that if you don’t like how they like after or right before they go to seed, you can really easily just pull them out.” – Aaron Anderson

Links Mentioned:

Dr. Elina L Niño on PolliNation with Andony Melathopoulos

Dr. Elina L Niño’s research interests are broad and range from understanding reproductive processes involved in queen bee mating to developing and evaluating new control methods to combat Varroa mites. More recent research efforts have focused on understanding benefits of supplemental forage crops within agricultural systems. In her extension role, Niño is overseeing the recently UC ANR funded Master Beekeeper Program at UC Davis. Her program offers many beekeeping courses and upcoming efforts will focus on the development of the Pollinator Education Program for kids and youth.

Listen in to learn how growers can improve their pollinator effectiveness, the benefits of certain overwintering solutions, and the key to great queens.

You can Subscribe and Listen to PolliNation on Apple Podcasts.

And be sure to leave us a Rating and Review!

“I know there’s a lot of talk about letting natural selection do it’s thing, but we have to think about what we’re doing. When we put the bee colony into a hive, it’s no longer considered to be, in my mind, natural. So I think they definitely need some help.” – Dr. Elina L Niño

Show Notes:

  • Why almond growers were particularly nervous about this years pollination
  • The different overwintering options and how different farmers and beekeepers have adapted
  • How growers are getting forage into their orchards
  • Why growers should consider adding mustard to their orchard and let it go to seed
  • What makes Northern California such a great place to make a queen
  • Why these high quality queens can perform poorly
  • How beekeepers, growers, and regulators came together to protect bees, and what they created to do it
  • The Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven at UC Davis, and why it was created

“There’s no doubt in my mind that there is a way to do breeding in a proper way, without putting the agriculture at risk.” – Dr. Elina L Niño

Links Mentioned:

Jim Cane on PolliNation with Andony Melathopoulos

Dr. Cane is a Research Entomologist with the USDA’s Pollinating Insect-Biology, Management, Systematics Research in Logan, UT. Dr. Cane has been interested in comparative studies of solitary bees for 30 years, beginning with the evolutionary origins and use of lipid exocrine secretions to attract mates, repel predators, supplement larval diets, waterproof, and disinfect their nests. Work with these bees naturally led to study of their pollination services in both wildland and agricultural settings. A bee species’ pollination value reflects its sustainable abundance, wherein habitat carrying capacity is capped by nesting opportunities and foraging success. Dr. Cane has applied his long-term interest in conservation to help measure, understand, and mitigate human factors that can shift nesting and foraging opportunities for bee communities such as climate change, urban sprawl, habitat fragmentation, and rangeland rehabilitation.

Listen in to learn about the two key pollinators of alfalfa seed: the alfalfa leafcutter bee and alkali bee.

You can Subscribe and Listen to PolliNation on Apple Podcasts.

And be sure to leave us a Rating and Review!

“There is no crop has more flowers per acre than alfalfa – way into the millions per acre – and less pollen and nectar per flower.” – Jim Cane

Show Notes:

  • Why alfalfa is such a prominent feed stock
  • What makes alfalfa a specialized crop for pollinators
  • Why honey bees are not ideal pollinators for alfalfa
  • How farmers learned to make use of alfalfa leaf-cutting bees
  • Why alkali bees are the eighth wonder of the world
  • Whether or not other species of bees can be managed like the alkali bee
  • The challenges of managing alkali bees
  • Qualities to look for in a hand lens for bee observation

“An alkali bee, in her entire lifetime– all of her foraging, all of her flower visitation, she sets about 25 cents worth of seed, about a quarter pound or a third of a pound of alfalfa seed.” – Jim Cane

Links Mentioned:

Pierre Lau on PolliNation

Pierre Lau is a Ph.D. candidate at Texas A&M University, where he has devoted his time and effort to studying honey bee nutritional ecology. He started building his academic resume at the University of California, San Diego and California State Polytechnic University, Fullerton with honey bee behavioral and native bee pollination studies. As an emerging scientist in the field of honey bee nutritional ecology, Pierre has studied honey bee salt preferences in water, the types of plants honey bees collect pollen from in urban environments, and colony-level macronutrient preferences.

Listen in to learn all about pollen: how to collect and identify it, how it can be used in forensics, and the tools that researchers have developed to source it from particular plants.

You can Subscribe and Listen to PolliNation on Apple Podcasts.

And be sure to leave us a Rating and Review!

“The fun thing about pollen and why palynology is a thing is that every species of plant will produce a unique pollen grain to that species. We can play CSI and forensics here: when you look at the pollen that honey bees collect, you can trace it back to the plant that they were actually visiting.” – Pierre Lau

Show Notes:

  • The different kinds of pollen and it’s structure
  • How the FBI uses pollen to find criminals
  • How to collect pollen
  • Why the process of identifying pollen can be dangerous
  • How Lau is helping Texas beekeepers track the source of their honey
  • How Nuclear Magnetic Resonance can be used to discover the chemical fingerprint of honey originating in a particular region
  • Why honey is one of the top 10 most adulterated products in the United States

“A lot of times when I would sample pollen pellets and beekeepers have a guess about what their bees are collecting, they would be very surprised about what the results actually show. That’s because I think that we are very focused on what we can see: the flowering plants on the floor or shrubs. But a lot of times, the bees will actually go up into trees for their pollen.” – Pierre Lau

Links Mentioned:

Dr. Casey Delphia on PolliNation with Andony Melathopoulos

Dr. Casey Delphia is a Research Scientist at Montana State University and Associate Curator of Apoidea in the Montana Entomology Collection (MTEC) where she conducts research on managed solitary bees and wild native bees in agricultural and wildland ecosystems. Projects include evaluating the use of wildflower strips for supporting bees and pollination services on farmlands and, most recently, documenting the wild bees of Montana. Towards building a comprehensive bee species list for the state, Casey co-authored the Bumble Bees of Montana as well as two recent checklists. In her spare time, Casey enjoys collecting bees in the desert southwest, the tropics of Belize, and the many interesting habitats found throughout Montana.

Listen in to learn about Dr. Delphia’s bee atlas projects, why Montana is a “black hole” of bee data, and where to find the coolest native bees of Montana.

You can Subscribe and Listen to PolliNation on Apple Podcasts.

And be sure to leave us a Rating and Review!

“It’s really great to be working on bees in Montana and it’s also not so great. It’s great because there are so many things to discover and it’s also not so great because there are so many things to discover.” – Dr. Casey Delphia

Show Notes:

  • Where to find the coolest native bees of Montana
  • What Dr. Delphia is hoping to accomplish in her recent bumblebee atlas project
  • Why Montana is a “black hole” of bee data
  • The challenges of bumblebee identification
  • Dr. Delphia’s upcoming project documenting the native bees of Montana
  • How Dr. Delphia collects specimens for her research
  • Dr. Delphia’s go-to tools for the field and the lab

“When somebody starts working with bumblebees and then they tell me it’s easy, then I realize they’re really not paying attention and they don’t know what they’re doing. The more you learn, the more you question what you know.” – Dr. Casey Delphia

Links Mentioned:

Kim Flottum on PolliNation with Andony Melathopoulos

This week we talk with Kim Flottum. Kim has not only thought long and hard about communicating with people of bees, as editor of Bee Culture and BEEKeeping magazines, but he has a tremendous sense of the history of this endeavor, being situated in the historic A. I. Root Company in Medina, OH. Kim is also invested in the future of teaching people about bees with initiatives such as the KIM&JIM Show webinars with Jim Tew and Beekeeping Today podcasts with Jeff Ott.

Learn how Kim Flottum is taking beekeeping education into the future, and how he is following in legendary beekeeping educator Amos Root’s footsteps.

You can Subscribe and Listen to PolliNation on Apple Podcasts.

And be sure to leave us a Rating and Review!

“We have gone from pencil-writing answers to letters, to the electronic age, and it has opened the door to anybody and everybody who wants to talk about anything.” – Kim Flottum

Show Notes:

  • What Bee Culture is and where it came from
  • How a novice bee enthusiast eventually authored an encyclopedia of bee and bee-related information
  • How Kim and A. I. Root Company are getting information to budding keepers in the digital age
  • What “The KIM&JIM Show” is and what it provides beekeepers around the world
  • How Kim sees his educational resources expanding to become more interactive
  • Why Kim carried the educational spirit of A. I. Root Company on to podcasts
  • How Amos Root inadvertently came to know the Wright Brothers and where their friendship led him

“We wanted to put information into the hands of people so they would succeed their first year and their second year, and by their third year, they would be growing.” – Kim Flottum

Links Mentioned:

Rebecca Perry and Grace Cope on PolliNation with Andony Melathopoulos

This week we are joined by Rebecca Perry and Grace Cope from Dr. Adam Dale’s Landscape Entomology program at the University of Florida. Rebecca is a graduate student whose masters project focused on conserving monarch butterflies on golf course wetlands, and Grace is an undergraduate research intern. Both have been working on research investigating the benefits of flowering patches to native pollinators and beneficial insects on courses with relatively high and low levels of management.

Listen in to learn how golf courses can better serve pollinators and their habitats through curating their plants, flowers, and maintenance schedule.

You can Subscribe and Listen to PolliNation on Apple Podcasts.

And be sure to leave us a Rating and Review!

“Golf courses are these really unique islands of vegetation within these urban lands.” – Rebecca Perry

Show Notes:

  • Why golf courses are so important when thinking about invertebrate biodiversity
  • How Rebecca and Grace created and studied their pollinator habitats within golf courses
  • What the study showed and how it affected the pollinator population around these habitats
  • How different types of golf courses with different styles of maintenance work with these specialized habitats
  • How the different habitats affected the predator populations
  • What Rebecca is studying in the relationship between fertilized turf, milkweed, and monarch health

“When you are going to establish diversity in terms of wildflowers, understanding the maintenance level of your golf course could determine whether or not it’s most beneficial, or how to write it into your maintenance plans.” – Grace Cope

Links Mentioned:

Steve Peterson on PolliNation with Andony Melathopoulos

Steve Peterson has been working with cavity nesting bees for a long time. How long is a bit of a mystery, as Steve is going full bore placing blue orchard bees out in California almond orchards at the time of writing (and catching up with Steve at this juncture would be very, very hard). Suffice it to say that soft-spoken Dr. Peterson would never say this out loud, but he knows A LOT about managing solitary bees. His company, Foothill Bee Ranch, helps people figure out how to make solitary bee systems work in crops like almonds, cherries, plums, strawberries, alfalfa seed, carrot seed, onion seed and lettuce seed.

Listen in to learn Steve’s experience in making and maintaining mason bee nesting blocks, and why he advocates using a wood laminate in its construction.

You can Subscribe and Listen to PolliNation on Apple Podcasts.

And be sure to leave us a Rating and Review!

“I’ve always been interested in that you can raise these bees and sort of have a lower input in terms of having to put them into cold storage so soon.” – Steve Peterson

Show Notes:

  • Why the Orchard Bee Association’s annual meeting is the best kept secret in the bee world
  • What Steve has learned from his nesting projects
  • What makes California and Utah bees different and why
  • The materials Steve uses for nesting
  • How to manage your pest and parasite population in building nests
  • The innovation that Steve and Agpollen had in mass-produced nesting materials
  • The good and bad of using reed for your nesting tubes
  • What Steve finds in his mason bee tubes that are not mason bees
  • What different parasites can infiltrate the mason bee nesting tubes
  • Why Steve documents a lot of data in his nests and what he uses it for
  • The tradeoffs of the wood laminate versus traditional wood nesting boards

“I do like to try and keep track of things like how many cells were made per nest, how many females were in each nest, how many pollen balls, how many of each of those pests.” – Steve Peterson

Links Mentioned:

Dr. Priyadarshini Chakrabarti on PolliNation with Andony Melathopoulos

Dr. Chakrabarti is currently working as a post-doctoral researcher in Dr. Ramesh Sagili’s Honey Bee Lab at Oregon State University. Her chief focus lies in improving honey bee health by understanding honey bee nutrition and deciphering the effects of pesticides on pollinators. At the Sagili Honey Bee Lab, she is currently studying the key nutrients essential for improving honey bee health. She employs various techniques of molecular ecology, neuroethology, insect physiology, ecotoxicology and apicultural practices to address her research questions. She earned her PhD from the Department of Zoology and Centre for Pollination Studies at the University of Calcutta in India, where she studied the effects of pesticides on native wild Indian honey bees. She was the recipient of the prestigious Royal Society Newton International Fellowship. She also pursued research at the Institute of Neuroscience at Newcastle University, UK, being awarded the prominent Newton Bhaba PhD Placement Fellowship. She has published several peer reviewed scientific journals, books chapters and extension articles. Apart from mentoring undergraduate and graduate students, she also interacts at daylong seminars with schoolchildren to teach honey bee biology and spread environmental and pollinator awareness.

Listen in to learn the importance of sterols in honeybee health, why they are so important, and the research Dr. Priyadarshini Chakrabarti has done on them.

You can Subscribe and Listen to PolliNation on Apple Podcasts.

And be sure to leave us a Rating and Review!

“[Sterols] are building blocks of cellular membranes. That is why we are trying to focus on them, because without these sterols, you would basically have a dead bee.” – Dr. Priyadarshini Chakrabarti

Show Notes:

  • The key nutrients that are needed to make a bee
  • Why sterols are so important for bee nutrition, and where they get it from
  • How sterols are a honeybee’s first line of defense against pests and parasites
  • What intrigued Priyadarshini about sterols and the role they play with bees
  • How Priyadarshini tested the effects of sterols and the research it was based on
  • The results of her study and what beekeepers can learn from it
  • What sterols were found in all different kinds of bee food
  • What Priyadarshini and her team are hoping to learn by continuing their study into metabolites

“It’s not just one nutrient, it’s a combination of various factors. We are focusing on phytosterols for now, and we are hoping to also look at the various factors that go into it.” – Dr. Priyadarshini Chakrabarti

Links Mentioned:

Lynda Boyer on PolliNation with Andony Melathopoulos

Lynda Boyer was hired in 2001 by Heritage Seedlings to facilitate restoration of native habitats on nursery properties and manage a native seed production program. Heritage Seedlings now grows over 120 species of native Willamette Valley wildflowers, grasses, and sedges on 35 acres for commercial seed that is used on restoration sites in the Willamette Valley. In addition, Lynda manages the restoration and maintenance of over 300 acres of oak, prairie, and riparian habitat on Heritage properties.

Listen in to learn how Heritage Seedlings aids in restoration sites and pollinator health as a Flagship Farm, and the best native plants for your garden.

You can Subscribe and Listen to PolliNation on Apple Podcasts.

And be sure to leave us a Rating and Review!

“We have around 560 native prairie plant species, and the majority of them also have pollinator species that utilize both for flowering resources and for cover.” – Lynda Boyer

Show Notes:

  • The diversity and abundance of native plant communities around Oregon
  • How Heritage Farms and other seed growers found plant material to start their productions
  • Why retailers and others often don’t bother with developing the array of seedlings that seed growers do
  • Where Lynda believes Heritage Seedlings success comes from and why
  • How Lynda has dealt with pests and potential problems with her productions
  • Lynda’s advice on which native plants to use for your garden and how to maintain them
  • How to establish a meadow on your land
  • How to get past the complexities of seeding rate for your seedlings

“It’s all education, and even to this day I’m learning what type of habitat works best for all these different diversity of insects.” – Lynda Boyer

Links Mentioned: