Rebecca Perry and Grace Cope on PolliNation with Andony Melathopoulos

This week we are joined by Rebecca Perry and Grace Cope from Dr. Adam Dale’s Landscape Entomology program at the University of Florida. Rebecca is a graduate student whose masters project focused on conserving monarch butterflies on golf course wetlands, and Grace is an undergraduate research intern. Both have been working on research investigating the benefits of flowering patches to native pollinators and beneficial insects on courses with relatively high and low levels of management.

Listen in to learn how golf courses can better serve pollinators and their habitats through curating their plants, flowers, and maintenance schedule.

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“Golf courses are these really unique islands of vegetation within these urban lands.” – Rebecca Perry

Show Notes:

  • Why golf courses are so important when thinking about invertebrate biodiversity
  • How Rebecca and Grace created and studied their pollinator habitats within golf courses
  • What the study showed and how it affected the pollinator population around these habitats
  • How different types of golf courses with different styles of maintenance work with these specialized habitats
  • How the different habitats affected the predator populations
  • What Rebecca is studying in the relationship between fertilized turf, milkweed, and monarch health

“When you are going to establish diversity in terms of wildflowers, understanding the maintenance level of your golf course could determine whether or not it’s most beneficial, or how to write it into your maintenance plans.” – Grace Cope

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Steve Peterson on PolliNation with Andony Melathopoulos

Steve Peterson has been working with cavity nesting bees for a long time. How long is a bit of a mystery, as Steve is going full bore placing blue orchard bees out in California almond orchards at the time of writing (and catching up with Steve at this juncture would be very, very hard). Suffice it to say that soft-spoken Dr. Peterson would never say this out loud, but he knows A LOT about managing solitary bees. His company, Foothill Bee Ranch, helps people figure out how to make solitary bee systems work in crops like almonds, cherries, plums, strawberries, alfalfa seed, carrot seed, onion seed and lettuce seed.

Listen in to learn Steve’s experience in making and maintaining mason bee nesting blocks, and why he advocates using a wood laminate in its construction.

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“I’ve always been interested in that you can raise these bees and sort of have a lower input in terms of having to put them into cold storage so soon.” – Steve Peterson

Show Notes:

  • Why the Orchard Bee Association’s annual meeting is the best kept secret in the bee world
  • What Steve has learned from his nesting projects
  • What makes California and Utah bees different and why
  • The materials Steve uses for nesting
  • How to manage your pest and parasite population in building nests
  • The innovation that Steve and Agpollen had in mass-produced nesting materials
  • The good and bad of using reed for your nesting tubes
  • What Steve finds in his mason bee tubes that are not mason bees
  • What different parasites can infiltrate the mason bee nesting tubes
  • Why Steve documents a lot of data in his nests and what he uses it for
  • The tradeoffs of the wood laminate versus traditional wood nesting boards

“I do like to try and keep track of things like how many cells were made per nest, how many females were in each nest, how many pollen balls, how many of each of those pests.” – Steve Peterson

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Dr. Priyadarshini Chakrabarti on PolliNation with Andony Melathopoulos

Dr. Chakrabarti is currently working as a post-doctoral researcher in Dr. Ramesh Sagili’s Honey Bee Lab at Oregon State University. Her chief focus lies in improving honey bee health by understanding honey bee nutrition and deciphering the effects of pesticides on pollinators. At the Sagili Honey Bee Lab, she is currently studying the key nutrients essential for improving honey bee health. She employs various techniques of molecular ecology, neuroethology, insect physiology, ecotoxicology and apicultural practices to address her research questions. She earned her PhD from the Department of Zoology and Centre for Pollination Studies at the University of Calcutta in India, where she studied the effects of pesticides on native wild Indian honey bees. She was the recipient of the prestigious Royal Society Newton International Fellowship. She also pursued research at the Institute of Neuroscience at Newcastle University, UK, being awarded the prominent Newton Bhaba PhD Placement Fellowship. She has published several peer reviewed scientific journals, books chapters and extension articles. Apart from mentoring undergraduate and graduate students, she also interacts at daylong seminars with schoolchildren to teach honey bee biology and spread environmental and pollinator awareness.

Listen in to learn the importance of sterols in honeybee health, why they are so important, and the research Dr. Priyadarshini Chakrabarti has done on them.

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“[Sterols] are building blocks of cellular membranes. That is why we are trying to focus on them, because without these sterols, you would basically have a dead bee.” – Dr. Priyadarshini Chakrabarti

Show Notes:

  • The key nutrients that are needed to make a bee
  • Why sterols are so important for bee nutrition, and where they get it from
  • How sterols are a honeybee’s first line of defense against pests and parasites
  • What intrigued Priyadarshini about sterols and the role they play with bees
  • How Priyadarshini tested the effects of sterols and the research it was based on
  • The results of her study and what beekeepers can learn from it
  • What sterols were found in all different kinds of bee food
  • What Priyadarshini and her team are hoping to learn by continuing their study into metabolites

“It’s not just one nutrient, it’s a combination of various factors. We are focusing on phytosterols for now, and we are hoping to also look at the various factors that go into it.” – Dr. Priyadarshini Chakrabarti

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Lynda Boyer on PolliNation with Andony Melathopoulos

Lynda Boyer was hired in 2001 by Heritage Seedlings to facilitate restoration of native habitats on nursery properties and manage a native seed production program. Heritage Seedlings now grows over 120 species of native Willamette Valley wildflowers, grasses, and sedges on 35 acres for commercial seed that is used on restoration sites in the Willamette Valley. In addition, Lynda manages the restoration and maintenance of over 300 acres of oak, prairie, and riparian habitat on Heritage properties.

Listen in to learn how Heritage Seedlings aids in restoration sites and pollinator health as a Flagship Farm, and the best native plants for your garden.

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“We have around 560 native prairie plant species, and the majority of them also have pollinator species that utilize both for flowering resources and for cover.” – Lynda Boyer

Show Notes:

  • The diversity and abundance of native plant communities around Oregon
  • How Heritage Farms and other seed growers found plant material to start their productions
  • Why retailers and others often don’t bother with developing the array of seedlings that seed growers do
  • Where Lynda believes Heritage Seedlings success comes from and why
  • How Lynda has dealt with pests and potential problems with her productions
  • Lynda’s advice on which native plants to use for your garden and how to maintain them
  • How to establish a meadow on your land
  • How to get past the complexities of seeding rate for your seedlings

“It’s all education, and even to this day I’m learning what type of habitat works best for all these different diversity of insects.” – Lynda Boyer

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Kathleen Baughman on PolliNation with Andony Melathopoulos

Kathleen Baughman is a 1995 graduate of Washington State University with a degree in Landscape Architecture. In 2009, Kathleen made a lateral shift into Horticulture and worked in pest management at a rose nursery for several years before coming to Iwasaki Bros., Inc. She currently works as both the IPM and Operations Manager, where her duties include pest and disease control along with soil and lighting trials.

Learn how Iwasaki Bros. has reduced their environmental impact through Integrated Pest Management (IPM), bee monitoring, and the flagship farm program.

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“The Iwasaki’s have always been interested in sustainability, so [becoming a flagship farm] was something that came very natural to them.” – Kathleen Baughman

Show Notes:

  • Which nursery plants are most popular for pollinators
  • How Kathleen and Iwasaki Bros. manage their nursery plants
  • What makes the Pacific Northwest a great place to grow nursery plants
  • What got Iwasaki Bros. interested in sustainability issues
  • What Integrated Pest Management is and how it aids in achieving Iwasaki Bros. sustainability goals
  • How pest management coincides with keeping a prime crop for nurseries
  • What Iwasaki has done to monitor bees as a flagship farm for the Oregon Bee Project
  • How the consumer focus for nursery plants has changed and how the industry has adapted

“The focus of Integrated Pest Management is on scouting and rapid identification of pests and diseases so we can just treat a small group of plants as opposed to having to spray the entire greenhouse.” – Kathleen Baughman

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Harry Vanderpool on PolliNation with Andony Melathopoulos

Harry Vanderpool has been a beekeeper for 25 years in the south hills of Salem, Oregon. Vanderpool Farms is now a family operation providing pollination services and farm direct honey. Harry has served as Vice President and President of the Willamette Valley Beekeepers Association and Vice President and President of the Oregon State Beekeepers Association, and enjoys working with stakeholders and sometimes conflicting agricultural sectors in a balanced manner to find solutions that will offer meaningful pollinator protection strategies.

Listen in to learn Harry’s effective communication methods, how he builds bridges with others in agriculture, and what he’s done for pollinators in the PNW.

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“We’re really all working hard and trying to make a living at the same time, and working together is the answer to that.” – Harry Vanderpool

Show Notes:

  • How Harry learned to communicate with growers who use pesticides with his bees
  • ‘Christmas tree honey’ and why it attracts honeybees
  • The key for Harry in developing good relationships with pesticide applicators
  • How to help crop producers understand the role bees play and how it will help them
  • How Harry further develops the partnership between his bees and the growers
  • Why it’s important that ‘pollination services’ are provided instead of renting the hives
  • The way Harry helps others use resources to prevent bee poisoning with pesticides
  • What resources Harry has provided to crop consultants, growers, and beekeepers in the Pacific Northwest, and how it has affected pollinator health

“There’s no easy money in agriculture, and banging your fist on the table and pointing your finger will put walls up. I want to build bridges.” – Harry Vanderpool

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Sarah Kincaid on PolliNation with Andony Melathopoulos

Sarah Kincaid is an entomologist and pollinator specialist in the Insect, Pest, Prevention, and Management Program (IPPM) with the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA). Sarah is a founder and ODA IPPM project lead for the Oregon Bee Project. The Oregon Bee Project brings together state agencies, farmers, and conservationists to protect and promote Oregon bee species vital the state’s agricultural and native landscapes. The Project aims to provide resources and networking opportunities in areas affecting bee health and to highlight pollinator projects underway with in the state and also has funded research examining the role non-Apis pollinators play in the pollination of several specialty crops. Sarah is also the author of an identification guide to Common Bee Pollinators of Oregon crops based on data from native bee surveys in 24 specialty crop systems. The guide is designed to provide the growers, the general public and natural resources professionals with basic information about agriculturally relevant bee genera. The guide serves an area of the country were few native bee identification resources are available. In this episode, Sarah talks about an initiative in the Oregon Bee Project called the Flagship Farm Program.

Listen in to learn how Sarah and the Flagship Farms program work with farmers to create sustainable ecosystems for pollinators, and how you can participate.

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“We’re a specialty crop state and many of those depend on pollination, and if they depend on pollination, that means they provide a resource for the bees themselves.” – Sarah Kincaid

Show Notes:

  • What makes Flagship Farms unique among pollinator programs
  • Why Oregon has a higher diversity of bees in agriculture than many other states
  • Why the Flagship Farms program was created and what Sarah is hoping to accomplish with it
  • What kinds of farms and farmers Sarah is hoping will join the program
  • What Sarah has seen so far in the participating farms
  • The unique properties that different crop farms offer for pollinators
  • How the Flagship Farms program has built a community of conservancy minded farms
  • What resources Sarah and her program offer the Flagship Farms

“Given that there’s a narrative that paints agriculture in a really negative light when it comes to insect biodiversity, we came up with the idea that there is a positive story that we can tell here.” – Sarah Kincaid

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Dr. Valerie Peters on PolliNation with Andony Melathopoulos

Dr. Valerie Peters is an Assistant Professor in Biological Sciences at Eastern Kentucky University. Valerie is an ecologist interested in the conservation of biodiversity, with research projects both in Kentucky but also Costa Rica, and she studies how global stressors such as land use change, invasive species, and climate change impact biodiversity and use ecosystem services, such as pollination, as a tool to place value on species, such as pollinators and biodiversity. By giving species a value, such as the pollination of commercial coffee, she hopes to interest more people in conservation. Dr. Peters also is involved in the Earth Watch Institute’s wild bee conservation projects in Costa Rica that provides citizen scientists with an opportunity to work with tropical bees.

Listen in to learn the intersection between changing tropical climates, pollinator habitats, and the coffee crop, and the impact of mines on pollinators.

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“For a lot of species, we don’t know if they’ll be able to successfully move fast enough northward, so the other potential could be that we would just see loss of species in a particular location or maybe declining pollinator population numbers.” – Dr. Valerie Peters

Show Notes:

  • How climate change can affect pollinator populations
  • What other parts of the ecosystem will change and indirectly affect pollinators
  • How different regions’ weather patterns will change
  • Coffee’s life cycle and it’s role in the pollination ecosystem
  • The research Valerie is doing on coffee and it’s pollination cycles
  • The ways the effects of climate change are shifting the patterns of coffee plants
  • How Valerie has worked with Earth Watch in Costa Rica to protect pollinators
  • The role of citizen scientists in Valerie’s research
  • The mine reclamation process and how the spaces are rehabilitated
  • How pollinator compositions in areas are affected by the presence of mines

“From that moment, I was addicted to how interesting it is to invite these [citizen scientists] to come out in the field and see who is going to come out and how you can get them inspired.” – Dr. Valerie Peters

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Christina Mogren on PolliNation with Andony Melathopoulos

Dr. Mogren is an assistant researcher of pollinator ecology at University of Hawaii Manoa, with a research program focused on how nutrition can be used to increase pollinator health to mitigate stress caused by pesticides, parasites, and disease. After receiving her PhD in Entomology from UC Riverside, she went on to two postdoctoral positions with the USDA-ARS in Brookings, SD and the LSU AgCenter in Baton Rouge, LA. She currently serves the beekeeping community of Hawaii with a 60% research and 40% extension appointment.

Listen in to learn the relationship of pollinators with native flora and fauna of Hawaii, and what is being done to aid local agriculture and beekeeping.

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“A lot of the plants [in Hawaii] evolved with bird and beetle pollinators, there’s only one native genus of bee.” – Dr. Christina Mogren

Show Notes:

  • What kinds of pollinators are native to Hawaii
  • How their isolation on the island has affected the evolution of Hawaii’s only native bee
  • Why Hawaii is one of the leading places to grow queens
  • What makes Hawaii’s relationship with varroa unique
  • How Christina is developing educational resources for Hawaiian residents interested in beekeeping
  • How the volcanic activity affects pollinators
  • Some of the unique crops that Hawaii hosts
  • How having pollinators present influences the crop yield
  • The problems that some of the local crop present that could be solved with other bee species

“We have a lot of seismic activity, and when you have those, it turns into sting central. Bees don’t like volcanoes either.” – Dr. Christina Mogren

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Robyn Shephard on PolliNation with Andony Melathopoulos

Oregon is one of the biggest vegetable seed producing states in the US. In this episode, we catch up with Robyn Shephard, an agronomist with Lakeside Ag-Ventures, in a red radish seed field to learn how hybrid systems work and the steps vegetable seed growers are taking to keep bees healthy during pollination.

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“In a hybrid system you have a male line and a female line, that cross and create the next variety that a farmer will plant to create something like a fresh market radish.” – Robyn Shephard

Show Notes:

  • The science behind the hybrid radish system
  • Why hybridize these specific radish plants
  • What types of radish are desired around the world
  • The role bees play in this industry
  • What diseases there are that can affect this crop
  • What can be done to control pests and help the bees

“During bloom you can have serious diseases of radish, like white rust, which would result in severe loss in seed yield even if flowers were properly pollinated.” – Robyn Shephard

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