Learning the bees of your local area can be a daunting task. Most guides and keys, for example, include bees that don’t even exist where you live, and are packed with hard-to-understand terminology. This week we talk to August Jackson, who has come up with a solution – a concise guide to the bees of the Willamette Valley (The Bees of the Willamette Valley: A comprehensive guide to the genera). August is the Interpretation Coordinator at Mount Pisgah Arboretum, helping to develop the Arboretum’s interpretive exhibits and adult educational programming. He has been studying and photographing bees and other pollinating insects in the region for over five years, and his photographs have appeared in a number of publications. August regularly teaches classes and delivers talks on pollination ecology and bee identification around the state. Most recently, he is assisting with the Oregon Bee Project in teaching basic bee taxonomy to volunteers conducting a statewide census of Oregon’s bee species.

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Links Mentioned:

The Bees of the Willamette Valley: A comprehensive guide to the genera (2019)
August on Instagram
August’s book pick: The Bees in Your Backyard (Wilson and Messinger Carril, 2015), Bees of the World (Michener)
August’s go-to-tool: Canon 80D camera, Canon Speedlight Flash
August’s favorite bee picture: Nomada and Chelostoma

The Fourth International Pollinator Conference was held in Davis, CA. In this episode you will hear about some of the interesting new research happening on pollinator health from around the world. 2019 International Pollinator Conference highlighted recent research advances in the biology and health of pollinators, and linking these to policy implications. The conference covered a range of topics in pollinator research, from genomics to ecology, and their application to land use and management, breeding of managed bees, and monitoring of global pollinator populations. The fourth International Pollinator Conference, the first year ever held at the University of California, Davis, drew a capacity crowd of 250, with presenters from 15 countries.

https://honey.ucdavis.edu/pollinatorconference2019

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Honey bee queen quality is an often overlooked dimension of colony health. In this episode we catch up with Dr. Shelley Hoover who is the Apiculture Researcher with Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development. She tells us about work to assess different commercial queen stocks and to fit queen production into crop pollination. Dr. Hoover is the Apiculture Unit Lead for the Alberta Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada. She is the current President of the Canadian Association of Professional Apiculturists and is a Past President of the Entomological Society of Alberta. Her current research focuses on honey bee health, breeding, management, pest management, and nutrition, as well as canola pollination. In addition, she has conducted research on other managed bees including bumble bees and leafcutter bees. Dr. Hoover completed her PhD on honey bee worker ovary development, nutrition, and behaviour at Simon Fraser University, British Columbia. Prior to her current position, she was a Research Scientist with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, a Research Associate with the University of British Columbia and the AAFC Beaverlodge Research Farm, and an NSERC postdoctoral fellow at the University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand.

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Links Mentioned:

Canadian Association of Professional Apiculturalists
Shelley’s book pick: Honey Bee Diseases and Pest Manual (3rd Edition, Canadian Association of Professional Apiculturalists)
Shelley’s go-to-tool: Queen rearing wheel, calf sled colony mover, hive lifter, Paul Kelly’s hive tool holder
Shelley’s favorite bee: Honey bee queen and drones (or workers that aspire to be queens)

In this episode we talk with Dr. Rosalyn (Ros) Johnson from Yardbio.com about how to establish local, native, and drought-tolerant species in backyards to support pollinators and wildlife. After Dr. Johnson earned her degree in Wildlife Ecology she decided to move to a part of the country she really like and work on preserving and supporting species and ecosystems locally – the San Francisco peninsula. While she works for bees and other wildlife like birds and salamanders, she also preserves the landscaping of yards and adhere to the wishes of the yard owner. As you will hear in this episode, she uses a few non-invasive but non-native plants that support honey bees and some native bees, too.



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Links Mentioned:

Yardbio.com
Calscape (California Native Plant Society)
Ros’ book recommendation: California Bees and Bloom (2014, Gordon W. Frankie, Robbin W. Thorp, Rollin E. Coville, and Barbara Ertter)
Ros’ go-to-tool: Collection vials
Ros’ favorite pollinator: Carpenter bees (Xylocopa spp.)

Although solitary bees make up the bulk of bee diversity, there hasn’t been a comprehensive biology book about them. That is until now. This week we catch up with Dr. Bryan Danforth about his new book, The Solitary Bee, authored along with Frances Fawcett, John Neff, and Robert Minckley. Dr. Danfoth is a Professor in the Department of Entomology at Cornell University in Ithaca NY. He pursued his MS and PhD under the guidance of Charles Michener at the University of Kansas, he had a post-doc with Ron McGinley at the Smithsonian and a second post-doc with George Eickwort at Cornell. He joined the Cornell faculty in 1996. His lab focuses on bee phylogeny, evolution, and biology with an emphasis on solitary, native bees.

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Links Mentioned:

The Solitary Bees: Biology, Evolution, Conservation (2019) Bryan N. Danforth, Robert L. Minckley, and John L. Neff. 



Squash bees were recently discovered in Oregon last year. This week we talk to Dr. Jim Cane about the biology of squash bees and what how far (and fast) it might spread into the state. We also take this opportunity to have Dr. Cane profile another summer bee that can be found in virtually any backyard in Oregon – the sunflower bee of the genus Melissodes.  Dr. Cane recently retired as a Research Entomologist with the USDA’s Pollinating Insect-Biology, Management, Systematics Research in Logan, UT.

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Links Mentioned:

Best, L, Marshall, C. and Red-Laird, S. (2019) Confirmed presence of the squash bee, Peponapis pruinosa (Say, 1837) in the state of Oregon and specimen-based observational records of Peponapis (Say, 1837) (Hymenoptera: Anthophila) in the Oregon State Arthropod Collection. Catalog: Oregon State Arthropod Collection Vol3(3) 2-6.

Cane, J (2013) Gardening for Native Bees in Utah and Beyond. Utah State Extension.

Cane, J (2015) Gardening and Landscaping Practices for Nesting Native Bees. Utah State Extension

Sunflower bee males sleeping in a sunflower. Note the length of the bees antenna.



There has been a lot of attention lately to whether there is a long-term towards declining insect abundance across the world. This week we catch up with Dr. Tyson Wepprich who recently reported on butterfly abundance declines in Ohio over the past 20 years.

Dr.  Wepprich is an entomologist who researches insect populations, phenology, and adaptations to climate. At OSU, he works with Fritzi Grevstad and Len Coop on the management of invasive weeds with biocontrol insects. Previously, he was at NC State University, where he worked on habitat restoration for an endangered butterfly, but realized he was a better statistician than field biologist. He switched projects in graduate school to analyze data from long-term monitoring of butterflies in Ohio. He still work on butterflies and how they can tell us about the health of insect communities and about insect adaptations to environmental changes. What he has learned from butterflies informs both his current job and his knowledge about how pollinators may fare in the future. Butterflies, other pollinators, and biocontrol beetles all have life cycles that depend on the climate. He is especially interested if increases in the number of generations insects attempt with longer growing seasons will be beneficial for their populations or not.

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Links Mentioned:

Wepprich, T., Adrion, J., Ries, L., Wiedmann, J., & Haddad, N. (2019). Butterfly abundance declines over 20 years of systematic monitoring in Ohio, USA. BioRxiv, 613786.

Hallmann, C. A., Sorg, M., Jongejans, E., Siepel, H., Hofland, N., Schwan, H., … & Goulson, D. (2017). More than 75 percent decline over 27 years in total flying insect biomass in protected areas. PloS one12(10), e0185809.

Tyson’s Book Recommendation: The Butterflies of Cascadia (Robert Pyle, 2002)Caterpillars of Eastern North America: A Guide to Identification and Natural History (David Wagner, 2005)

Tyson’s Go to Tool: R and ggplot2

Favorite Pollinator: Great Spangled Fritillary (Speyeria cybele)

Public outreach may seem simple, but impactful and effective outreach is an art. Bonnie Shoffner from Portland Metro is a real pro at pulling off pollinator outreach events and this week she shares here secrets for success.  Bonnie is the Restoration Volunteer Coordinator at Metro.



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Links Mentioned:

Metro – Portland (Pollinators)
Native plants for Willamette Valley yards booklet (Metro)

Metro Native Plant Center
Oregon Zoo Education Center

Bonnie’s Book Recommendation: The Bees in Your Backyard: A Guide to North America’s Bees (Wilson and Carril, 2015)

Bonnie’s Go to Tool: Which bee are you most like game (8 bees with different personalities, Oregon Bee Project)?

Favorite Pollinator: Bumble bees (PNW Bumble Bees color chart for females, Xerces Society)



Oregon and Florida may seem miles apart, but the role of bees in both states has remarkable parallels. This week Dr. Rachel Mallinger University of Florida talks about blueberry pollination, bees in forest systems and interests of gardeners around bees in the Sunshine State. Dr. Mallinger is a professor in the Department of Entomology and Nematology at the University of Florida. Her position is 60% research, 25% extension, and 15% teaching, so she wears many hats! In general, she conduct research on pollination ecology, plant-pollinator interactions, and wild bee community ecology. Her extension programs works with growers of pollinator-dependent specialty crops (e.g. blueberries, strawberries), and with Florida’s Master Gardeners to improve gardens and landscapes for native wild bees. She also teaches a course on the ecology and conservation of pollinators for both undergraduate and graduate students.

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Links Mentioned:

Dr. Mallinger’s website

Dr Mallinger’s Book Recommendation: The Bees in Your Backyard: A Guide to North America’s Bees (Wilson and Carril, 2015)

Go to tool: Pollinator exclusion bags (here is an exercise using these bags from Ohio State University – also here are the bags that Dr. Mallinger uses)

Favorite Pollinator: Southeastern blueberry bee (Habropoda laboriosa)

Watermelons are hard notoriously to pollinate. But pollination is not their only problem; they can also experience reduced yield from pest damage. This week we hear from Jacob Pecenka, a PhD candidate at Purdue Universtity, from who tells us about the trade-offs from managing pests and loosing pollination and how Integrated Pest Management can provide an excellent way to navigate these trade-offs.

Jacob grew up in South Dakota, where agriculture was never too far away. He started his PhD in the Entomology Department in 2017. His research examines how the insecticide inputs change agricultural cropping systems. Specifically he is looking at pest/pollinator dynamics in Indiana watermelon production and how insecticides in the melons, as well as adjacent crops, alter pest insects, beneficial pollinators, and ultimately the yield and profitability of these operations. When not stomping through melon fields in a bee suit he fills his time visiting Indiana’s many state parks with my trusty dog Thea.

 

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Links Mentioned:

IPM Revisited: A Cost-effective Solution for Balancing Pest and Pollinator Management (Jacob Pecenka, October 24, 2018)

Jacob’s Book Recommendation: The Bees in Your Backyard: A Guide to North America’s Bees (Wilson and Carril, 2015)

Go to tool: Bee vacuum

Favorite Pollinator:  Melissodes bimaculatus