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


There has been a lot of demand for nursery plants that are good for pollinators, but also confusion on whether these plants have been grown using practices that minimize impacts to pollinators. This week we hear from Sharon Selvaggio, Program Director at Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides (NCAP), about a pilot study (conducted along with Lloyd Nackley from the OSU Hort Ecology lab and Bruce Colman from Woodburn Nursery)  to see what consumers respond to when labeling pollinator plants around the practices they were grown under.  Sharon has experience with pesticide risk assessment and mitigation and holds a seat on EPA’s Pesticide Program Dialogue Committee, a federal advisory group. She works to provide training and information on alternatives to pesticides for in agricultural, landscape, and residential settings. She is the author of Water is the Connection: Mitigating Pesticide Risk for Salmon Recovery. She previously worked for 27 years as a biologist and refuge manager for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Forest Service, and she holds an M.S. in Energy and Resources and a B.A. in Biology, both from the University of California at Berkeley.

Links Mentioned:

Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides (NCAP)

The value of the green label (March 27, 2019, Lloyd Nackley, Bruce Colman and Sharon Selvaggio)

Sharon’s Book Recommendation:  Attracting Beneficial Bugs to Your Garden: A natural approach to pest control (Jessica Walliser)

Go to tool: Twitter @PNWNurseryIPM (Robin Rosetta), @finegardening, @BeesBackyard

Favorite Pollinator:  Fenders blue butterfly (Icaricia icarioides fenderi)


To mark 100 episodes of PolliNation we have assembled the dedicated faculty from OSU to answer your questions:

Thanks again to Sean Rooney from The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) for hosting us at Bug Week and for all the people who submitted questions for the show. We always love your questions, so keep them rolling.

Links Mentioned:

Do bees dream? The article Jennifer Holt mentions is: Kaiser, W., 1988. Busy bees need rest, too. Journal of Comparative physiology A163(5), pp.565-584.

Megachilid Bees in the Pacific Northwest: An Introduction (OSU Extension, 2016)

Nurturing Mason Bees in Your Backyard in Western Oregon (OSU Extension, 2016)



Example of wooden blocks with different hole sizes mentioned by Lincoln Best during the show.

Still room available for the 2019 Bee School – Native Bee Taxonomy Course:

Registration link

Adam Allington in a reporter with Bloomberg Environment in Washington DC. He covers environmental issues including pesticides and chemicals. Prior to coming to Bloomberg he spent more than ten years working in public radio. Over the course of one year, Adam, along with environment reporters David Schultz and Tiffany Stecker traveled to all corners of the honeybee ecosystem from Washington, D.C., to the California almond fields, and orchards of the upper Midwest to examine the changing relationship between commercial pollination and US food production. There findings are featured in a new Bloomberg podcast: The Business of Bees.

Links Mentioned:

The Business of Bees podcast (iTunes)

The Big Business of Bees (Bloomberg, May 16, 2019)

EPA Curbs Use of 12 Bee-Harming Pesticides (Bloomberg Environment, May 21, 2019)

Last Chance to register for the 2019 Bee School (Native Bee Taxonomy Course):

Bob Falconer joined the OSU Master Gardeners in 2009 but has been gardening since the 1970s. He’s been involved with horticulture since high school, with experience spanning 50 years. He was part of the team that developed and piloted OSU Extension’s Ask an Expert app, which received the OSU Vice Provost Award for Excellence. Falconer has served multiple terms as president of the Washington County Master Gardener Association. He also an Oregon Master Beekeeper. Bob knows how to grow stuff – he even has bananas growing in his yard. This week he shares his secrets on how to establish magnificent strips of Phacelia and clover.

Links Mentioned:

Hubram Clover (1916, Iowa State)

Crimson Clover (Western SARE)

Lacy Phacelia (NRCS)

Pollinator Palooza (June 22, 2019, Jackson Bottom Wetland Park)

Bob’s Phacelia planted in the spring

Bob’s crimson clover seeded last fall

Bob’s mower for chopping up the plants after they have made seed.


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