Dr. Chris Marshall on PolliNation with Andony Melathopoulos

Dr. Chris Marshall is the curator of the Oregon State Arthropod Collection (OSAC) located at Oregon State University. In this episode, Dr. Marshall discusses the value of museum collections in being able to piece together patterns of bee biodiversity across space and time (OSAC’s collection was started around 1860). Dr. Marshall also talks about a newly funded initiative (through the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research’s Pollinator Health Fund) to develop interactive museum tools to help people in the Pacific Northwest better understand the native bee fauna here. Before assuming the curatorship of OSAC, Dr. Marshall was at Cornell University (where he did his PhD), the Smithsonian and the Field Museum in Chicago.

Listen in to learn the role of a museum in biodiversity and pollinator research, how citizen scientists can help, and OSU’s new grant-funded bee project.

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“[The Pollinator Health Fund grant] allows us to do two foundational things. First it will allow us to make the historical records of native bees in our collection available to be part of an Atlas, that is both graphical – essentially a road map you can view online – but also the map would be interactive so that the data underlying that point on the map are accessible allowing a person to examine, critically, the basis for the points on the distributional map for themselves. But also, as museums, we see ourselves contributing to the task of building the collection over time. So we see the project as being interactive not just for the user of the data, but also to researchers who want to add to that Atlas for future researchers use“. – Dr. Chris Marshall

Show Notes:

  • What role museums play in understanding pollinator diversity
  • How field research on biodiversity only gives a small sample of a species’s timeline
  • What is a plant host record and how it is used
  • How museum collection of specimens have evolved over time
  • Why the ability to extract DNA from older specimens used to prove so difficult, and is now much easier
  • What the important elements of a properly curated pollinator specimen are
  • Chris’s advice for people starting their first collection
  • What citizen scientists and hobbyists provide by collecting and properly curating specimens
  • Why creating a regional bee atlas will be so helpful to understanding of bee biodiversity
  • The checklist of regional bees Chris is developing and what it will be used for

“Natural history museum specimens provide the ability to sample past ecosystems in a way that you might not have thought of before.“ – Dr. Chris Marshall

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Bee Buddies on PolliNation with Andony Melathopoulos

This week we are joined by Heath Keirstead and Jerry Paul from the Benton Soil and Water Conservation District (BSWCD). Heath is BSWCD’s Communication and Community Engagement Manager and Jerry has been involved with BSWCD as a volunteer and Board Member. PolliNation caught up with Heath and Jerry at the BSWCD office to talk about caring for orchard mason bees (Osmia lignaria) in the spring and their outreach initiative – the Bee Buddies program – that is encouraging stewardship of people cultivating these bees.

Listen in to learn how best to take care of your mason bees, when to place them outside, and how the Bee Buddy program helps the pollinator community.

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“If any of you have the chance, take a mason bee or any pollinator, look at it under the microscope and I think it’s going to open up a whole new world to you.” – Jerry Paul

Show Notes:

  • When is the best time to put out mason bees
  • Why mud preparation is the best thing you can do for your mason bees
  • How to tell if your flowers are ready to be pollinated
  • How to protect the larval mason bees during transport
  • Why the location of the nest box is so important to the mason bee’s success
  • Which plants are the most beneficial to the mason bee
  • Why the Bee Buddies program was started, and what it’s goals were
  • How caring correctly for mason bees can give them a 90% survival rate
  • How the Bee Buddies program is bringing attention to larger environmental issues
  • What the outreach of Bee Buddies looks like
  • How to get involved with Bee Buddies
  • What other organizations are contributing to environmental conservation

“With a mason bee, you can target your crop. They only fly up to about 300 feet from their nest box.“ – Heath Keirstead

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John Gates on PolliNation with Andony Melathopoulos

John Gates has been a beekeeper for 43 years. He served as the Apiculture Specialist British Columbia Ministry of Agriculture, Apiculture Program 1975-2002. He was a full-time commercial beekeeper from 2002-2015, specializing in bee breeding, stock production and pollination. He has lectured widely in Canada, the United States, Australia, New Zealand and the Caribbean. Today, John joined us to talk about how you can build your own stock and offset colony losses by making nucleus colonies (nucs).

Listen in to learn about how John got started with nucleus colonies, how he has influenced other beekeepers, and what he saw change in his bees over time.

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“I started with Dr. Laidlaw’s book in one hand and a grafting needle in the other, trying to figure out what the heck I was doing. It took a while until I was successful grafting those first few larvae.“ – John Gates

Show Notes:

  • What a “nuc” or nucleus colony is
  • What got John into making nucs
  • Reflection on John’s time working with British Columbia beekeeping legend John Corner
  • Why John’s operation of developing nucs brought in even more income than expected
  • The timeline of a nuc-making operation
  • How queen rearing fits into nuc production
  • John’s work with the British Columbia government revealed the importance of nuc-making to a profitable business
  • How stock improvement integrates into John’s beekeeping system
  • The importance of queen rearing workshops in getting the ball rolling

“I guess there had been some people producing queens in the past, but we didn’t really know much about it, so we just wanted to see if it was possible here. Can we produce good quality queens that will winter well, will be productive and gentle?“ – John Gates

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Mark L Winston on PolliNation with Andony Melathopoulos

Mark Winston was the recipient of the 2015 Governor General’s Literary Award for Nonfiction for his book Bee Time: Lessons From the Hive. One of the world’s leading experts on bees and pollination, Dr. Winston is also an internationally recognized researcher, teacher and writer. He directed Simon Fraser University’s Centre for Dialogue for 12 years, where he founded the Centre’s Semester in Dialogue, a program that creates leadership development opportunities that equip and empower students contribute to social change in communities.

In this episode Mark reflects on 30 years since the publication of his first book “Biology of the Honey Bee” (1987) and the forthcoming release of his latest book with Renée Sarojini Saklikar “Listening to the Bees” (2018).  He discusses how communication (both within and beyond the hive) has been a thread through his work.

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“For a number of years I was [not working with bees], but I found first that I missed it, I missed the people, I missed the bees, and then I started realizing all the stuff I was doing in dialogue grew out of my life in bees“. – Mark Winston

Show Notes:

  • Mark’s reflections on writing “Honey Bee Biology” in the mid-1980s
  • Mark’s work the role of honey bee queen mandibular pheromone
  • How to write in a way that is accessible to a broad audience
  • Mark talks about his long-running column in Bee Culture magazine
  • What has remained the same and what has changed around Mark’s thinking about bees.
  • What inspired Mark’s newest book “Listening to the Bees” (2018)
  • What is so unique about the format, style and writing in “Listening to the Bees”

“To me bees are unknowable, and I say that as someone who has done a lot of research and who has had a lot of students who helped us to learn more about bees“. – Mark Winston

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The Research Retinue is a new segment on PolliNation that goes into depth on research papers that have been recently featured in the news. The Retinue is made up of intrepid OSU undergraduates and this week involved Addison DeBoer (Biology), Lacy Haig (Zoology), Umayyah Wright (Environmental Science), Isabella Messer (Horticulture). They take up the question of the conservation implications of honey bees by examining two papers published in top research journals last month that take up this question from different angles.

Listen in to learn more about how honey bees affect global regions, which pollinators are the most effective, and how studies could improve their research.

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“Even if [honey bees] could [do the job of all the other pollinators combined], would we want them to? Because then we’d be missing out on all of the ecological variation of the other species.“ – Umayyah Wright

Show Notes:

  • How the honey bee contributes to pollination of wild plant communities worldwide
  • Why honey bee contributions to wild plant pollination can change due to many different environmental factors
  • How effective a pollinator the honey bee is in comparison to other bees
  • Why a pollinator’s native region is so important in it’s local ecosystem
  • Why simply pollinating plants is not the entire goal of pollinator protection
  • What is the most important trait of pollinators for conservation
  • Why these studies were useful, and what they need to improve
  • What the Research Retinue would like to see in the future for pollinator studies
  • Are their risks associated with beekeeping in sensitive areas
  • How different programs are taking steps to help home gardeners benefit the pollinator population
  • What home gardeners can do to help local pollinators flourish

“In the fight for bee conservation, we shouldn’t be focusing on honey bees because that’s an agricultural and economic issue, not a conservation issue.” – Isabella Messer

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Rose Kachadoorian is a Pesticide Regulatory Leader with the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) and oversees efforts involving pesticide registrations, certification and licensing of pesticide applicators, endangered species, and other pesticide related issues. She has been with ODA for over 20 years. She is also very heavily involved with pollinator protection issues at both the state and national level. Ms. Kachadoorian is President-Elect of the Association of American Pesticide Control Officials (AAPCO), and is a Co-Chair of AAPCO’s Pollinator Protection Workgroup. She has also served on EPA’s Pesticide Program Dialogue Committee (PPDC) Pollinator Metrics Workgroup.

Listen in to learn how your local and country agencies have fought for pollinator health, and what changes are taking place with farmers and regulators.

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“Communication and awareness is key to state plans.“ – Rose Kachadoorian

Show Notes:

  • How states have responded to issues about pollinator health
  • How the EPA and the states worked together to form pollinator protection
  • Why this partnership for pollinators really helps out the EPA
  • Why communication between every involved party is so important when applying pesticides
  • What bee flags are, and how Mississippi has used them
  • What best management practices exist for maintaining pollinator health
  • Why a certain incident really kicked off the pollinator protection movement in Oregon
  • How that incident caused broad awareness for all pollinators, not just honeybees
  • What makes Oregon unique in their response to incidents between bees and pesticides
  • Rose’s advice for beekeepers who suspect a pesticide-related incident
  • The process of determining the real cause of a bee-kill
  • Why pesticide labels should be checked with the EPA’s online database

“We did receive some direction from the EPA, but they really left it up to the states in developing their own plans, which really has been the smartest way to go about it.“ – Rose Kachadoorian

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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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Jeff Reardon on PolliNation with Andony Melathopoulos

Representative Jeff Reardon has served the East Portland District of Happy Valley (District 48) in the Oregon Legislature since January 2013. Shortly after coming to office there was a tragic pesticide poisoning of bumble bees in a suburban big-box parking lot in Portland. Although he had been thinking about pollinator health before his election, he quickly found himself at the lead of an initiative to strike a Pollinator Health Task Force and then a comprehensive House Bill around pollinator health. House Bill 3362 is without equal in the United States and has not only tasked the Oregon State University Extension Service and state agencies to work on pollinator health, but has also committed resources towards carrying out this work. Representative Reardon was born and raised in the blue-collar town of Kelso, Washington and is a Vietnam Era Veteran (having served on a nuclear submarine in the Western Pacific). He had a busy career before entering politics, not only as a high school teacher but also as a communications manager with Tektronix.

Listen in as we talk about Reardon’s landmark bill, what it has done for pollinators, and how he involved the bee-keeping community.

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“[The Oregon Pollinator Health Bill] is one of my favorite projects, ever.“ – Jeff Reardon

Show Notes:

  • How Reardon’s landmark bill got started
  • How the bill evolved from initial intention
  • Who the key players were in passing the legislation
  • What is in the bill, and who it was for
  • How communication with beekeepers has helped revise the law for the better
  • Why Jeff is so passionate about the project

“We’re really concerned about how to inform the backyard gardener about pesticides and pollinators. If the trained license applicators are having this much trouble, then what do we do for the backyard gardeners?“ – Jeff Reardon

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Dr. Ramesh Sagili on PolliNation with Andony Melathopoulos

Dr. Ramesh Sagili is an Associate Professor in the Department of Horticulture at Oregon State University. He obtained his PhD in Entomology from Texas A&M University in 2007, specializing in honey bee research. His primary research focus at OSU is honey bee health, nutrition and pollination. His appointment also includes extension and hence he also works closely with the stakeholders. He initiated the creation of Oregon Master Beekeeper Program in 2010 and chaired the Governor’s Task Force on Pollinator Health in 2014. He has strived to establish a vibrant and dynamic honey bee research and extension program at OSU to cater the needs of beekeepers and producers. He has authored several important research and extension publications. In 2017 he received the Entomological Society of America’s Pacific Branch Research Award and also the Eastern Apicultural Society’s Outstanding Research Award.

Listen in as we talk about honey bee nutrition, what beekeepers need to know about nutrition supplements and sterols, and what Ramesh has learned about controlling varroa mites.

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“There is a lot we don’t understand about the role of sterols in the honey bee diet”. – Dr. Ramesh Sagili

Show Notes:

  • How much is currently known about honey bee nutrition
  • The importance of the sterols in the honey bee’s growth
  • What Ramesh’s research on sterols and honey bees has shown about larval growth
  • The role that protein supplement can play in the health of your hive
  • How bees can get their necessary nutrients and sterols with artificial feed
  • What kinds of problems varroa mites present, and Ramesh’s research into mitigating their effects
  • Some of the questions surrounding varroa mites, and what we know about them
  • What “mite drifting” is, and how population density plays into it

“We had low density areas and high density areas of hive and we watched how Varroa mite infestations changed over time. This allowed us to quantify the migration of mites among apiaries.  [Preliminary findings were] that mite levels almost doubled in the high density areas. It was a real eye-opener”. – Dr. Ramesh Sagili

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

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