Research Retinue on PolliNation with Andony Melathopoulos

The OSU Research Retinue goes into depth on research papers that have been recently featured in the news. We convened Retinue this week to review a paper that got a fair amount of press over the past few months. Glyphosate is the most widely used herbicides in the world and is regarded as relatively non-toxic to bees and other pollinating insects. A study by Erick Motta and his colleagues from the University of Hawaii at Manoa demonstrate an indirect link between glyphosate and honey bee health in a laboratory study, namely a link to bacteria found in honey bee guts that helps fend off diseases.
This week’s retinue consists of OSU undergraduates Addison DeBoer (Biochemistry and Molecular Biology), Lacey Jane (Zoology), Isabella Messer (Horticulture) and Umayyah Wright (Geography).

Learn more about the recent research studying the effects of glyphosate on honeybees, and how glyphosate can indirectly affect their gut homogenate.

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“Those lactobacillus bacteria are supposed to not be sensitive to the glyphosate, so it’s weird that the single dose would affect them, but when there’s a double dose, there seems to be no change.” – Addison DeBoer

Show Notes:

  • What makes up the microbiome of a honeybee
  • How glyphosate works as an herbicide
  • Why glyphosate indirectly affects bees health
  • How the study was conducted
  • The two different kinds of significant bacteria found in the honeybee gut
  • What could have improved the study
  • How the timing and frequency of applying glyphosate affects honeybees
  • The different ways that science and news outlets are reporting this story

“The bees that had none of the gut homogenate and the bees that have the gut homogenate and glyphosate were affected almost exactly the same, which shows that the effect of glyphosate basically counteracts all of the positive effects of the gut homogenate.” – Addison DeBoer

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Garth Mulkey on PolliNation with Andony Melathopoulos

This episode explores the fascinating relationship between bees and specialty seed crops. Oregon vegetable and flower seed industries are deeply invested in the health of pollinators. Moreover, the great conditions for growing seeds in the state has led to a proliferation in the variety of different flowering crops grown in Oregon. An estimated 14,000+ acres are planted to vegetable seed production statewide, for a farm gate value of $27 million in 2012. This is good news for bees. We caught up with Garth Mulkey to learn more.

Garth operates a farm in Monmouth Oregon and a seed business (GS3 Quality Seeds Inc). This summer we walked through one of his sunflower fields with his beekeeper Tim Wydronek, OSU’s Vegetable and Specialty Seed Crop Specialist Dr. Kristine Buckland and Oregon Department of Agriculture’s Sarah Kincaid. Garth is also one of the early adopters of the Oregon Bee Project’s Flagship Farm Program.

Listen in to learn how Garth helped develop the bee protection protocol for specialty seed growers, and why specialty seed growers need bees.

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“[The bees] are even more critical in our hybrid productions, because the females in this production do not produce their own pollen, so if we don’t have bees, we don’t harvest seed.” – Garth Mulkey

Show Notes:

  • What makes Oregon such an ideal place to grow specialty seeds
  • Why the bees are so necessary in Garth’s hybrid productions
  • How to best prepare bees for pollination
  • What Tim Wydronek is looking for from the growers before pollination begins
  • Why Garth’s group came up with a bee protection protocol
  • What no-till farming is and why it is used with specialty seed growers
  • How and where Garth’s specialty seeds are used around the world
  • The process of generating a protocol to protect pollinators in such a large group of growers

“As a group who specializes in hybrid production, we realize the importance of having pollinators, and lots of them. So as a group, we decided we needed to be at the forefront of educating the public and the legislators on what our needs are and what we’re doing.” – Garth Mulkey

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Courtney MacInnis and Dr. Steve Pernal on PolliNation with Andony Melathopoulos

Courtney MacInnis received her MSc from the University of Alberta in 2017. As a MSc student, Courtney examined the viability and infectivity of Nosema ceranae spores in various substrates associated with honey bee colonies. Courtney is now a PhD student at the University of Alberta, supervised by Drs. Lien Luong and Steve Pernal. Her research aims to examine the pathological impacts of two emerging pathogens, N. ceranae and Lotmaria passim, on their honey bee host.  In her spare time, Courtney enjoys curling, barre, eating pastry, and curating an extensive collection of bee-themed items.

Dr. Steve Pernal has has been employed by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada since 2001 as a Research Scientist in Beaverlodge, Alberta where he leads a national honey bee research program and also serves as Officer-in-Charge. Steve’s work has been diverse, and has included the detection, control and mitigation of residues associated with oxytetracycline-resistant American foulbrood disease and the development of food-grade therapies for chalkbrood disease. He was also involved in devising therapies and management strategies for the control of Nosema ceranae as well as other emerging parasites of honey bees. Steve has also been an integral member of three successive large-scale Genome Canada projects evaluating markers for resistance to AFB and Varroa. He was instrumental in the establishment of the National Bee Diagnostic Centre, also located in Beaverlodge, which has recently completed a 4-year national survey of honey bee pests and diseases in Canada.

Listen in to learn how the small fungus Nosema affects bee colonies, how and where it thrives, and what is being done to stop it in the research community.

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“Nosema is kind of a tough nut to crack. There have been many people besides ourselves that have worked on alternative treatments to Nosema over the years and have largely proved unsuccessful.” – Dr. Steve Pernal

Show Notes:

  • What causes Nosema disease
  • How Nosema ceranae has affected the wintering of bees
  • How Nosema causes so many problems in colonies
  • What happens inside a bee when infected with Nosema, and how it targets the mid-gut of the bee
  • The vulnerable stages of Nosema that can be taken advantage of
  • How different beekeepers try to mitigate spore production in their colonies and equipment
  • How Nosema ceranae often survive in unideal environments
  • The hardiness of these spores and why they are so hard to eradicate
  • What methods Steve and Courtney recommend in reducing Nosema spores
  • How to tell if your colony is infected by Nosema, and how to differentiate between Nosema ceranae and Nosema apis
  • How to test your colony for Nosema infection
  • What work is being done at Beaverlodge to fight Nosema’s effects on pollinators
  • Why fumagillin is not perfect in it’s treatment of Nosema and the side effects it has on colonies

“The only way to tell for sure if [your bees] have Nosema, if you don’t care about the species, would be microscopy. But if you’re curious whether you have a Nosema apis or ceranae infection, you have to use molecular techniques to differentiate between the two species.” – Courtney MacInnis

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Dr Sara Galbraith on PolliNation with Andony Melathopoulos

Dr. Sara Galbraith is a postdoctoral researcher in the Forest Animal Ecology Lab at Oregon State University in the Department of Forest Ecosystems and Society. She has a B.A. in Biology from St. Olaf College and a Ph.D. in Entomology from the University of Idaho and the Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center in Costa Rica. Her research focuses on understanding the influence of human-caused and natural disturbances on pollinator communities, especially in forest habitats. Sara has studied how land use change in Costa Rica and wildfire severity in southwestern Oregon influence wild bee communities, and she is currently investigating the influence of forest management on pollinator health in the Oregon coast range. Outside of work, Sara enjoys hiking with her dog and watching the Great British Baking Show.

Listen in to learn how forests are managed, how it affects pollinator habitat, and how bioassays gather essential insights into improving pollinator health.

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“We know so much about these mason bees and some of the other species that we manage that could work for these types of experiments, that it gives us the abilities to test all sorts of hypotheses.” – Dr. Sara Galbraith

Show Notes:

  • How forests are managed, and why that affects the bees we see
  • Why herbicides can affect bee habitats in very complex ways
  • How researchers learn the ways that habitats are affected by forest management
  • The methodological challenges of researching the changing bee habitats
  • What can be learned through using the bioassay in studying pollinators
  • Why forests are so important to the ecosystem of the Pacific Northwest
  • What is measured in a bioassay
  • How the myriad data collected through the bioassay can be used
  • The ways that natural disasters affect pollinator habitats in forests
  • What Sara and her team are currently working on
  • What wood lot owners can do to help their pollinator habitats thrive

”There are a lot of challenges in measuring the quality of habitat for bees, especially because they are such mobile organisms. So some of our biggest challenges are really methodological.” – Dr. Sara Galbraith

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Michelle Flenniken on PolliNation with Andony Melathopoulos

Michelle Flenniken is an Assistant Professor in the Plant Sciences Department at Montana State University. She is a microbiologist investigating honey bee host–pathogen interactions and Co-Director of the Pollinator Health Center at MSU. Michelle received a B.S. in Biology from the University of Iowa, then was a Peace Corps volunteer in Ghana, before obtaining her Ph.D. in Microbiology from Montana State University. She did postdoctoral research at the University of California, San Francisco prior to becoming a faculty member at MSU.

Listen in to learn how viruses affect pollinators, how virologists study them, and which ways beekeepers can best protect their colonies from infection.

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“When you think about a bee colony, it’s a great place for viral infections. They’re really crowded, if you think of honeybees, there’s over 40,000 individuals crawling all over each other.” – Michelle Flenniken

Show Notes:

  • How pollinators can get infected by viruses
  • The difference between horizontal and vertical transmission
  • Why monitoring your mite infestations can help minimize viral transmissions
  • How virologists have been studying and finding these myriad viruses
  • What common viruses affect United States pollinators
  • How the names of the viruses are determined
  • The process of infection with viruses and pollinators
  • How beekeepers can best test their colonies for viral infections
  • What beekeepers can do to reduce the damage caused by viruses
  • What Michelle sees as some of the most exciting research in virology right now
  • The evolution of how bees fend off viruses
  • How different RNA strands are used to create defenses against viruses

“I think that many of us get human centric when we start thinking about viruses and pathogens and we think that there are specific viruses that infect humans and those that affect other animals, but for insects and plant viruses, viruses can have a broader host range which include completely different genre.” – Michelle Flenniken

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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:

Dale Mitchell on PolliNation with Andony Melathopoulos

Beginning in 2013, Oregon faced a series of bumble bee poisoning incidences associated with pesticide use on linden trees. In response, the Oregon Legislature passed the Avoidance of Adverse Effects on Pollinating Insects bill. A key provision of this legislation was for Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) to develop a bee incidence reporting system to facilitate public reporting of incidences related to pollinator health. This week we hear about how this reporting system works from Dale Manager, a Program Manager with ODA’s Pesticide section. This week’s guest host is Oregon Bee Project’s Steering Committee member and ODA’s Pesticide Registration and Certification Specialist Gilbert Uribe.

Listen in to this episode to learn how the Department of Agriculture handles suspected pesticide-related bee incidents, and what they do to prevent them.

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“I would like to encourage any citizens within the state of Oregon to report any suspected bee related incident. That information is valuable to the department and others involved in evaluating pollinator health.” – Dale Mitchell

Show Notes:

  • When Dale got started in the Department of Agriculture’s pesticide division
  • What steps are taken in a normal bee kill investigation
  • How the investigative process changes under different conditions
  • What separates the bee kill investigations from their normal procedures
  • How the Department of Agriculture enforces their rules and regulations
  • How the ODA’s process compares to those of other states
  • Why Oregon’s data collection follows a national guideline
  • What changed since the Wilsonville bee incident
  • Why the Wilsonville incident gained so much public awareness

“Bee or pollinator concerns is only one type of investigative activity that we follow up on, but the process is really a fact finding process.” – Dale Mitchell

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Oregon Pollinator Week 2018 on PolliNation with Andony Melathopoulos

Oregon just hosted its largest Pollinator Week in its history and we thought it was a great opportunity to catch up with some of the people who made the over 20 events in the state happen. We start the episode at the Pollinator Festival in Klamath Falls (June 22) where we caught up with Dr. Nicole Sanchez (Assistant Professor, Horticulture, OSU) and Akimi King (Biologist, US Fish and Wildlife Service), we then met up with Rich Little (Linn County Master Gardeners, Oregon Bee Atlas) and Tim Wydronek (Linn Benton Beekeepers Association) at the event at the Corvallis Farmers Market (June 23), followed by Pam Leavitt (Lane County Beekeepers Association) and Alison Center (North American Butterfly Association) at the Eugene Science Center (June 23). The episode concludes at the final event of Oregon Pollinator Week at the High Desert Museum in Bend with Margaret Marshall (Master Gardeners) and Louise Shirley (Natural History Curator, High Desert Museum). It’s a great episode to learn how to engage the public around issues of pollinator health.

Listen in to this special episode to learn how young students can learn about pollinator science and health, and the way education is changing young minds.

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“It’s so cool to see so many kids out here checking out pollinators, and how sophisticated they are and how they really do know a lot about these insects already.” – Nicole Sanchez

Show Notes:

  • How Nicole is engaging school children in pollinator education
  • Why microscopes are a key component of early science education
  • The role of flies in pollination
  • Why kids will probably remember the time they made “bombs” for Oregon Pollinator Week
  • The importance of monarch butterflies in Klamath Falls
  • Why people need to know the difference between bees and wasps
  • How Tim is cleverly showing the importance of pollinators in our food
  • Tim’s advice for people interested in keeping bees of their own
  • Why Pam believes early childhood education is crucial
  • How education is changing fear of bees into curiosity
  • How to help out the monarch butterfly population
  • What makes Bend’s High Desert Museum unique
  • How the location of the High Desert Museum helps immerse it’s attendees

“I think the National Pollinator Week is very important because it gives us an opportunity to remind people what role pollinators play in their health.” – Rich Little

Links Mentioned:

Dr. Ramesh Sagili on PolliNation with Andony Melathopoulos

Dr. Ramesh Sagili is an Associate Professor in the Department of Horticulture at Oregon State University and heads up OSUs mighty Bee Lab. He is a regular guest on PolliNation and this week he comes on the show to tell us how to manage colonies for an intense honey flow (happening right now in Western Oregon with the onset of the blackberry flow). It’s also been an unusual year with colonies brooding up early in the year and this brings on the threat of varroa mites. Dr. Sagili explains why an early spring can be both a blessing and a curse and what to do about it.

On today’s episode, learn how to keep your bees healthy and productive, what is most important in maintaining your bees, and how to prevent varroa mites.

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“Close to 50% of the nectar that [honeybees] bring in around the year is from blackberries.” – Dr. Ramesh Sagili

Show Notes:

  • How beekeepers can get ready for blackberry nectar season
  • What the process is of getting honey into the colonies
  • What honey supers and queen excluders are
  • Why wax production is such an important factor and can’t be overlooked in honey production
  • Why this season is the perfect time to consider dividing your colony
  • What other opportunities are available for beekeepers during this season
  • How to learn when to perform key maintenance with your bee boxes
  • How to use your honey supers
  • Why beekeepers should be concerned with mites for this season’s bees
  • What treatments are available for varroa mites
  • What Sagili’s lab is doing this upcoming year at Oregon State University

“Oregon is not a great place to raise queens, but I think between the window of June through August, it’s a good time raise your own queens here.” – Dr. Ramesh Sagili

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Tom Landis on PolliNation with Andony Melathopoulos

Tom Landis has a PhD in Forest Ecology and has worked for 30 years as a nursery specialist for the USDA Forest Service. He now runs Native Plant Nursery Consulting and is a member of the Southern Oregon Monarch Advocates, where he provides educational and hands-on Milkweed and Monarch Workshops. The Southern Oregon Monarch Advocates are a dynamic group of people united in a common goal: to help the western monarch butterfly focusing on public outreach, creating habitat by establishing Monarch Waystations, planting native milkweed and nectar species, and raising monarchs.

Listen in to learn more about the Monarch butterfly, what Monarch waystations are and why they exist, and their unique system of migration.

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“The adult butterfly weighs half as much as a paperclip, yet they fly 40 miles a day and up to 700 miles [to their destination].“ – Tom Landis

Show Notes:

  • Where the migratory Monarch butterflies live in Oregon
  • The unique migratory process of the Monarch butterfly
  • What fuels the super generation’s long migration
  • Why Monarchs need a certain kind of tree canopy to survive
  • What are Monarch waystations and who came up with the idea
  • What Monarch waystations contain for Monarch butterflies
  • How Tom is helping spread Monarch waystations throughout southern Oregon
  • What it means when you see a whole cluster of butterflies in one spot
  • How you can make your own Monarch waystation

“That’s what’s so amazing about monarchs; you think of that fourth generation, they’re flying back to where their great-great-grandparents came from, and they’ve never been there.“ – Tom Landis

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