Rich Hatfield on PolliNation with Andony Melathopoulos

Rich Hatfield is a senior conservation biologist for the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation. He has authored several publications on bumble bees, including a set of management guidelines entitled Conserving Bumble Bees. He serves as the Red List Authority for the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) Bumble Bee Specialist Group and has taught bumble bee management and identification courses in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, California, and Massachusetts. Rich helped develop and launch the citizen science website Bumble Bee Watch, which has attracted over 18,000 users throughout North America, and gathered over 30,000 photo observations of North American bumble bees since 2014. Bumble Bee Watch now serves as the platform to collect data for the Pacific Northwest Bumble Bee Atlas for which he is the principal investigator. In addition to his work with bumble bees, Rich has investigated native bee pollination in agricultural systems in the Central Valley of California, and studied endangered butterflies in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado and throughout the Pacific Northwest. When not at work, Rich is often off exploring the wonders of the Pacific Northwest with his family.

Listen in to today’s episode to learn how the PNW Bumble Bee Atlas is aiding in bee conservation, and how you can participate in pollinator habitat surveys.

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“I can tell you from the response that we’ve had that people are pretty excited. They’ve been having a really good time doing this. I love it, too, and it’s good to know that other people can join you on this.” – Rich Hatfield

Show Notes:

  • What the bumblebee atlas is, and what it is accomplishing
  • How the Xerces society developed their system of bumble bee collection
  • Why this bumble bee atlas can’t use other similar programs in their own study
  • The importance of having positive and negative data in these studies
  • What training people need to take to participate
  • What the process is of gathering specimen for bumble bee research
  • How a roadside survey is different than a point survey
  • What happens after the citizen scientists complete their survey
  • The benefits for many different groups of this kind of a project in this region
  • How you can get involved in helping the PNW Bumble Bee Atlas

“A lot of what we need to know is not what’s happening where people live, but what’s happening more in remote areas.” – Rich Hatfield

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Dr. Sarah Lawson on PolliNation with Andony Melathopoulos

We are starting a new series to help expand our understanding of the amazing diversity in the bee genera of the Pacific Northwest. This week, we are focusing on the small carpenter bee from the genus Ceratina with Dr. Sarah Lawson, who is a lecturer in the Department of Biology at Sacred Heart University in Connecticut. Dr. Lawson talks about research she did in the Sandra Rehan lab at the University of New Hampshire on the evolution of social behavior in bees using Ceratina as a model. In this episode, we learn all about the life cycle of Ceratina, and its peculiar strategy of turning the firstborn female into underfed dwarf female who acts as a nursemaid to the other bees in the nest (i.e., a Cinderella daughter).

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“Ceratina is a bee on the brink of sociality.” – Dr. Sarah Lawson

Show Notes:

  • What kinds of bees are part of the genus Ceratina
  • What separates the carpenter ants from these carpenter bees
  • The regular life-cycle of the Ceratina carpenter bee
  • What makes certain bees sociable and others not as sociable
  • What separates Ceratina from other solitary bees
  • Why the mother makes a “Cinderella daughter” for the nest
  • How different female bees work alongside each other in the nest
  • What Sarah and other researchers have learned from studying the larval food of Ceratina bees
  • How nutrition and the way it is dispersed affects the roles the Ceratina bees play
  • What opportunities unexplored bee species give us in researching them

“The mother is able to coerce the dwarf eldest daughter into doing all the cleaning, sometimes she’ll forage, sometimes she’ll guard the nest. We kind of think of her as the Cinderella daughter for the nest.” – Dr. Sarah Lawson

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Robert Coffin and Josh Loy on PolliNation with Andony Melathopoulos

In past episodes, we have highlighted the important role golf courses play in pollinator health. In today’s episode, we talk about a fantastic success story here in Oregon. Earlier this month, Stewart Meadows Golf Course in Medford, Oregon became Oregon’s first golf course with certified Monarch Butterfly Waystations. This effort came about through a great partnership between the golf course and one of Oregon’s most active pollinator protection group, the Southern Oregon Monarchs Advocates. In this episode, we hear about how the partnership came about, how to create certified Monarch Waystations, and how Stewart Meadows integrated the waystations into their course.

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“We want to put in more of these monarch waystations and pollinator habitats. To me, that is a wonderful next step, not only for the golf course, but for all the monarchs and our entire community.” – Robert Coffin

Show Notes:

  • What a monarch waystation is and why it’s important
  • What got Robert and Josh started in working on them
  • How the waystations benefit both the butterflies and the golf courses where they reside
  • How weed pressure has been dealt with on the course
  • What other types of waystations exist outside of golf courses
  • What it means when a monarch waystation is certified
  • How you can get your own waystation certified
  • The importance of maintenance with waystations and pollinator habitats
  • How the plots of land were prepared before becoming a waystation
  • How waystations have become a way of educating the public on pollinators
  • Why the monarch population has gotten so low this year in particular

“Anything we can do to help kids experience what I and other kids my age did when we were [younger], if we can bring more of the monarch’s back, let’s do this.” – Josh Loy

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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

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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

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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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Dr. Bob Peterson on PolliNation with Andony Melathopoulos

Alfalfa leafcutting bees (Megachilie rotandata) don’t make the headlines like honey bees do, but they are pretty important to agricultural production. These bees pollinate alfalfa plants to make the seed that gets planted out across hay fields across the US and beyond. This week we learn about the peculiar management system associated with leafcutting bees. Our guide is Dr. Bob Peterson, who is Professor of Entomology at Montana State University, where he leads the research, teaching, and outreach program in Agricultural and Biological Risk Assessment. Dr. Peterson also shares insights from his work around alfalfa leafcutting bee management and vector control.

Dr. Peterson has authored or co-authored 110 peer-reviewed journal articles, 14 book chapters, and one book. He teaches undergraduate and graduate courses, including environmental risk assessment, insect ecology, and various special-topics graduate courses. In 2019, he will become president of the Entomological Society of America, the largest organization in the world serving the professional and scientific needs of entomologists and people in related disciplines. Founded in 1889, ESA today has more than 7,000 members affiliated with educational institutions, health agencies, private industry, and government.

Listen in to today’s episode to learn about the uniqueness of leafcutting bees, how they’re managed, and how to keep your bees safe in using pesticides.

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“The goal here is that we manage populations using the best science to have the minimal impact on the environment. That’s the ultimate goal.” – Dr. Bob Peterson

Show Notes:

  • How alfalfa leafcutting bees are managed
  • The life history of the alfalfa leafcutting bee
  • Why honey bees are not good pollinators for the alfalfa crop
  • The technology used to manage alfalfa leafcutting bees
  • What conflicts arise between mosquito control and managing leafcutting bees
  • Why understanding the difference between toxicity and risk is so crucial in using pesticides
  • What techniques leafcutting bee operators can use to minimize collateral damage of pesticides
  • Why honeybees are more sensitive to pesticides, despite being larger than leafcutting bees
  • The alternatives to pesticide in combating mosquitoes
  • Bob’s advice for those managing leafcutting bees on minimizing their exposure to pesticides

“When you look at an alfalfa field, if it has what looks like little metal or wooden sheds in the field, that’s where hundreds and hundreds of thousands of leafcutting bees are doing their jobs.” – Dr. Bob Peterson

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Dr. Hollis Woodard on PolliNation with Andony Melathopoulos

Bees can live in some extreme environments; from the hot deserts of the US southwest, to the tundra in Alaska and northern Canada. Dr. Hollis Woodard’s research focuses on the underlying mechanisms that allow these bees to adapt to these extremes, providing insights into basic bee biology that can help us understand how bees might respond to our rapidly-changing planet. Dr. Woodard is an Assistant Professor of Entomology at the University of California, Riverside. From 2013-2015, she was a USDA-NIFA Postdoctoral Fellow working on the nutritional ecology of bumble bees with Dr. Shalene Jha at the University of Texas at Austin. She received a PhD in Biology in 2012 from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she worked with Dr. Gene Robinson on the molecular basis of social evolution in bees.

Listen in to today’s episode to learn about the bees that evolved in vastly different climates, and why Dr. Woodard’s lab studies the way they have adapted.

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“I started thinking, I have learned a lot about bee nutrition and behavior to answer fundamental biological questions about bumble bees, but if this group is in trouble maybe I can take what I learned to apply to questions of how to conserve them.” – Dr. Hollis Woodard

Show Notes:

  • Bumble bee diversity and the wide range of habitats they have adapted to living in.
  • How bees in the arctic have changed to fit within their environment.
  • How bees have evolved sociality multiple independent times, but how all share common sugar metabolic pathways.
  • Why some bumblebee populations are doing okay while others are in steep decline.
  • The challenges that are facing native bees today.
  • The key challenges to a national native bee monitoring system and some of the ideas for tackling these problems.
  • Why E.O. Wilson has been such a big inspiration for Dr. Woodard.

“There are some groups across the US who are monitoring for native bees and one the things we can do [to monitor bees as a country] is start to unite some of these efforts and link up and standardize approaches. We need to move beyond the borders of a state, because many bees don’t exist within the boundaries of one state.” – Dr. Hollis Woodard

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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

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