Emily Erickson on PolliNation with Andony Melathopoulos

Emily is a PhD student in entomology at Pennsylvania State University. Her work focuses on the plant-pollinator interactions, with a focus to supporting pollinators and biodiversity in urban environments. Emily did her undergraduate work at UC Davis where she studied International Agricultural Development and minored in Entomology, which honed her interest in how humans interact with the natural world and set her on the path to studying bees and their role in man-made environments. In today’s episode she talks about the role of garden plants in bee conservation and dives deep into how plant breeding may be changing the attractiveness of garden plants to bees.

Emily Erickson talks about the role of garden plants in bee conservation and how plant breeding may be changing the attractiveness of garden plants to bees.

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“Studying ornamental plants allows me to isolate floral traits in the context of the whole flower. So I can keep everything else consistent and then ask, ‘what if the flower was red instead of orange? Does that matter?’.” – Emily Erickson

Show Notes:

  • The issues Emily found in building pollinator friendly gardens, and how she is hoping to solve it
  • What makes studying ornamental plant varieties so unique and interesting
  • How these ornamental garden plants affect the population of pollinator visitors
  • What makes a plant pollinator friendly
  • How Emily and her team have been studying these effects
  • How a different cultivar can make a difference in pollinator populations
  • Why this research is unique among other studies of it’s kind
  • What other research Emily is doing on this subject

“There is no one flower to rule them all. That is the really cool thing about plant pollinator communities, but also it’s not what people want to hear.” – Emily Erickson

Links Mentioned:

Mike Rodia on PolliNation with Andony Melathopoulos

Ralph (Mike) Rodia, a life time member of the Oregon State Beekeepers Association (OSBA) and the Willamette Valley Beekeepers Association [WVBA], has a PhD in Organic Chemistry, was a research scientist, college educator, occupational health inspector and supervisor (Oregon OSHA), Oregon Chief Deputy State Fire Marshal, and has been active in the OSBA at the regional and state levels for the last 20 years. His experience in the preparation and implementation of laws and rules has allowed him in the past, and now as OSBA’s Agricultural Liaison to interact with governmental agencies at all levels, to foster and advance beekeeping in Oregon, particularly as it relates to residential beekeeping.

Listen in as we talk with Mike Rodia about residential beekeeping and the ways to work with your local government to keep your local hives nuisance-free.

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“Residential beekeeping didn’t really exist 30 or 40 years ago, so the cities have had to address it as problems have come up, so each [city] will vary each time it comes up with a problem.” – Mike Rodia

Show Notes:

  • What residential beekeepers need to know about their local laws
  • How Mike got started with beekeeping
  • What a nuisance standard is, and how it can be used to help
  • Why the public misunderstanding of bees versus hornets or yellow jackets can cause such huge issues for residential beekeepers
  • What Mike has experienced with unnecessary rules and regulations on residential beekeeping in municipalities and counties
  • How Mike circumvented regulations in an Oregon house bill with education instead
  • How the committee behind the bill developed the education guidelines
  • What Mike recommends for municipalities looking to manage their residential beekeeping issues
  • Mike’s advice for residential beekeepers that get cited

“Rules do not make or break problems with beekeeping. They don’t really help anything, they don’t accomplish anything.” – Mike Rodia

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Lori Weidenhammer on PolliNation with Andony Melathopoulos

This week we catch up with Lori Weidenhammer about her book Victory Gardens for Bees: A DIY Guide to Saving the Bees. Lori was recently through Corvallis for the Oregon Bee School and this offered an opportunity to talk about the book before class one morning. Lori is a Vancouver performance-based interdisciplinary artist and educator. As you hear in the show, she is originally from a tiny hamlet called Cactus Lake, Saskatchewan. It is in this place, bordered by wheat fields and wild prairie, that she first became enchanted with bees. For the past several years she has been appearing as the persona Madame Beespeaker, practicing the tradition of “telling the bees”. As a food security volunteer and activist Lori works with students of all ages on eating locally and gardening for pollinators.

Listen in to learn more about victory gardens, the cultural importance of bees over time, and how artists and scientists work together to educate the world.

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“If you want to grow food to feed yourself, you also need to feed the bees. We need to feed the bees.” – Lori Weidenhammer

Show Notes:

  • How Lori became so passionate about bees
  • Why it has been so important to “tell the bees” about birth and death
  • How the conversation around and awareness of bees has changed
  • What the victory gardens of World War II have to do with bees
  • The many ways Lori’s community cooperates to make a community pollinator habitat
  • What makes a garden a victory garden
  • How herbs can make your garden more vibrant with pollinators and help your vegetables thrive
  • Why a pollinator garden in a very small plot can still be extremely effective
  • What Lori sees as the future of collaboration between artists and scientists
  • How to engage kids into wonder and learning of pollinators

“Community gardens come and go, so what you really need to do is also have herbs, which are perennials that come back year after year to give a really good supply of pollen and nectar, and they can also act as medicine cabinets for bees.” – Lori Weidenhammer

Links Mentioned:

Sam Droege on PolliNation with Andony Melathopoulos

This week, students with Oregon State University’s Bee School took a break in the OSU Pollinator Gardens on their last day of class (they were working on the Apidae) to ask questions of native bee biologist Sam Droege. Sam Droege is a biologist with the US Geological Survey’s Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, in Maryland. He has coordinated the North American Breeding Bird Survey Program, developed the North American Amphibian Monitoring Program, the BioBlitz, Cricket Crawl, and FrogwatchUSA programs and worked on the design and evaluation of monitoring programs. Currently, he is developing an inventory and monitoring program for native bees, and online identification guides for North American bees.

Listen in to learn more about how to plant a garden for pollinators using non-native plants, and the complexities of pollinator research in the field.

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“When I’m working with people, I tell them, ‘you’re only allowed to work on a specimen for five minutes. If you haven’t identified them in five minutes, put it down and do a different specimen.’ Because at that point your return is less and less for the amount of effort.” – Sam Droege

Show Notes:

  • Which non-native plants are best for home gardeners and pollinators
  • What non-native plants act as a “bird feeder for the crow and sparrow bees”
  • The pollinator species that Sam loves and dislikes the most
  • Sam’s strategies in species identification with large studies
  • Why Sam doesn’t bother identifying male pollinators most of the time
  • Why researching pollinators almost always involves some kind of lethal trapping technique
  • What Sam would like the general public to know about pollinators
  • The role that all people play to help the pollinator population
  • How to avoid causing problems in your community with your home pollinator habitat

“With non-native plants you can get a lot of bees coming to a number of different kinds of plants, but think of these plants as bird feeders for the crow and sparrow bees. So if you put a bird feeder in the middle of the city you get lots of birds but you are not getting flamingos, warblers and shearwaters, your getting crows, chickadees… the things that don’t need our help, but the things we love having around. ” – Sam Droege

Links Mentioned:

Alison Center on PolliNation with Andony Melathopoulos

Alison Center has worked as a wildlife biologist for the Bureau of Land Management and U. S. Forest Service and volunteers on the Coast Fork Willamette watershed council’s technical team. She is presently working as the editorial assistant for BioProcess International magazine and is the president of the Oregon chapter of the North American Butterfly Association (NABA) based in Eugene. Last year she enjoyed surveying for butterflies, bumblebees, pond turtles, and birds.

NABA formed in 1992 and is the largest group of people in North America interested in butterflies. NABA has active programs in butterfly conservation, monitoring and gardening, and owns and operates the National Butterfly Center, a 100-acre conservation, education and research center in Mission, Texas.

Listen in as we talk about butterflies, their fascinating relationship with Oregon landscapes, and how you can plant your garden to attract more butterflies.

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“The first step is to be curious about butterflies and start noticing them, and then where does your interest lie? Would you like to know more about their natural history? Do you want more of them in your yard? Or are you a birder who wants something new?“ – Alison Center 

Show Notes:

  • The first steps people take in learning about butterflies
  • Where gardening for butterflies and bees overlap
  • Why local identification guides are extremely helpful in learning about your garden’s bugs
  • How NABA helps out new and experienced butterfly enthusiasts
  • How NABA does their “Fourth-of-July Butterfly Count”
  • The differences and similarities between moths and butterflies
  • How butterflies deter predators
  • What makes the relationship between butterflies and plants unique
  • How different moths and butterflies prepare their chrysalis and cocoons
  • How butterflies prepare for winter
  • The migration patterns of various butterflies
  • What plants Alison recommends for good butterfly and pollinator habitats
  • Alison’s favorite books about butterflies, tools, and pollinator

“The North American Butterfly Association has extensive butterfly monitoring programs, so where Audubon has the Christmas Bird Count, NABA has the Fourth of July Count. In Oregon the Eugene group sponsors two counts, but there are a number of other counts that take place elsewhere in the state.“ – Alison Center

Links Mentioned:

BEEvent on PolliNation with Andony Melathopoulos

BEEvent is really without equal in the US. Started in 2014, this annual event provides gardeners and land managers with the practical knowledge and tools to help bee pollinators. The conference is organized by the Linn County Master Gardeners and the 2018 conference (3 March, 2018 in Albany, Oregon) will focus on “Creating a Pollinator-Friendly Landscape in your Garden” (featuring former PolliNation guest Linda Hardison). Andony was joined by three organizers of BEEvent, Ranee Webb (Master Gardener, President of Linn County Master Gardeners 2016-2017), Susan Morton (Master Gardener and “Bee Czar”) and Rich Little (entomologist and Master Gardener).

Listen in to learn more about the BEEvent, Oregon’s pollinator conference, and what this event provides gardeners and pollinator enthusiasts of all kinds.

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“There is a lot of hunger out there to do something to help [pollinators], but people don’t know what to do, and we’re giving them that information.” – Susan Morton

Show Notes:

  • What’s happening at this year’s BEEvent
  • Who the speakers are and what they will be speaking about
  • How attendees will learn about caring for a more diverse set of pollinators
  • Why the BEEvent is the perfect event for the curious home gardener
  • How the first BEEvent got started
  • The future of the BEEvent
  • What have been the BEEvent’s successes
  • The other ways that the organizers contribute to helping pollinators
  • How master gardeners can contribute to the cause for pollinators
  • What resources the OSU extension service provides
  • What gardening and beekeeping resources will be available at the BEEvent
  • What are the guest’s favorite books, tools, and pollinators

“Bees need more than food. They need a place to sleep and a place to rear their young, so your yard has to provide all of that.” – Rich Little

Links Mentioned:

Dr. Gail Langellotto on PolliNation with Andony Melathopoulos

Dr. Gail Langellotto is an Associate Professor of Horticulture at Oregon State University, and coordinator of OSU Extension Master Gardener program. As the secretary of the National Initiative for Consumer Horticulture, Gail works with industry, academic, and nonprofit leaders to document the benefits of home community gardening and to promote public support for research and extension in consumer horticulture.

Although her graduate and post-doctoral work was conducted in natural (e.g. forests, salt marshes, grasslands) or agricultural (e.g. cotton, papaya) areas – her first job was at a University in the south Bronx. Knowing that natural or agricultural field sites would be difficult to find – she quickly reconnected with her love for cities, and began to study the ecology of pollinators in urban community gardens.

Listen in to learn about ground nesting bees, the potential problems of plant lists, and how to maximize the benefits of urban landscapes for pollinators.

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“[A review by Garbuzov et al.] point out that many lists of plants for pollinators are put together anecdotally; they seem to represent someone’s personal preferences for particular plants and that in order to have really good information on what plants are attractive to pollinators we need more rigorous observations and research trials.“ – Dr. Gail Langellotto

Show Notes:

  • What common misconceptions and knowledge gaps exist in the field of urban landscapes and pollinators
  • Why gardeners need to consider nest sites for all bees
  • What is the impact of a few neighborhood gardeners working for pollinators
  • How urban landscape researchers secure funding and support
  • How many environmental issues that affect pollinators have public health consequences
  • Why plant lists for gardeners can be hurting pollinator habitats
  • What bees need to create their nest
  • What the nest of a ground nesting bee looks like
  • Why many gardeners are apprehensive to leave ground nesting habitat for bees
  • What is the “landscape mullet” hypothesis
  • The trick to using an aspirator to collect insects and leave the flower head intact

“A lot of [gardeners] don’t recognize the importance of nest sites for bees, and in particular, the importance of nest sites for ground nesting bees.“ – Dr. Gail Langellotto

Links Mentioned:

Laura Taylor works for the West Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District. In this episode, find what happens when a local government wants to do something to help pollinator health.

As a conservation technician and an educational coordinator, Laura created an innovative program to monitor wild pollinators around restoration sites.

Learn how she got the monitoring program off the ground, what you can do for landowners wanting to help create pollinator habitats, and how they teach people to identify pollinators.

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“What can we do to encourage people to convert their monoculture lawns into something more diverse that will support a myriad of wildlife including pollinators and beneficial insects?” – Laura Taylor

Show Notes:

  • How wild pollinators fit into the mission of the West Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District
  • Some of the biggest challenges to pollinators in this area
  • How they work with land owners to set priorities for conservation and pollinator habitat
  • What initially drew her interest in pollinators
  • How they build their Meadowscaping Handbook
  • How their pollinator monitoring program works
  • What the program does to educate landowners
  • How long it takes to teach someone to be able to identify insects and bees
  • What they learned from teaching people about bees in the first year of their program
  • What the future holds for the pollinator monitoring program

“Our pollinator monitoring, citizen science program sounds like a data collection program, but the main inspiration for it was the education benefit it would have for participants.” – Laura Taylor

Links Mentioned: