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

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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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John Gruszka on PolliNation with Andony Melathopoulos

John Gruszka served as the Provincial Apiculturalist in Saskatchewan, Canada between 1978 and 2011. As John mentions in the interview, Saskatchewan is one of the most productive honey producing places on the planet, but it suffers from quite an inhospitable winter (John says it’s the closest you get to ‘Siberia’ on the continent). In this episode, John describes how Saskatchewan beekeepers learned to become less dependent on imported package honey bees during the 1980’s. John has a biology degree from the University of Waterloo, and a Masters degree in Entomology (Apiculture major) from the University of Manitoba. He worked in Tanzania from 1971-1975, 3 years of which was on Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) sponsored beekeeping training, research and development. During his term as Provincial Apiculturalist, he served three terms as President of the Canadian Association of Professional Apiculturalist (CAPA).

Listen in to hear about the history of pollinators in Northern Canada, wintering techniques, and how packages of bees have changed the beekeeping industry.

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“I will never forget Dr. Don Peer telling me, ‘I’m a 2 percenter. If I can improve by having 2% less winter losses, 2% more honey, 2% less aggression in my hives – whatever else you are selecting for – over five years I am 10% better’.” – John Gruszka


Four colonies pushed together and insulated
into a four-pack (Southern Alberta, photo: Lynae Ovinge)

Show Notes:

  • Why anybody would keep bees in such cold climates
  • How bees were kept alive during the harsh winters of the past
  • What makes Northern Canada so ideal for pollinators
  • When the trend changed from wintering bees to relying on packages for winter
  • The key innovations afforded by packages of bees
  • How different ways of wintering bees can provide different benefits
  • Where many wintering techniques come from
  • The history of the Carniolan bee in Saskatchewan

“Beekeepers need to recognize that when it comes to queen rearing, you can do this!“ – John Gruszka

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BEEvent on PolliNation with Andony Melathopoulos

BEEvent is really without equal in the US. Started in 2014, this annual event provides gardeners and land managers with the practical knowledge and tools to help bee pollinators. The conference is organized by the Linn County Master Gardeners and the 2018 conference (3 March, 2018 in Albany, Oregon) will focus on “Creating a Pollinator-Friendly Landscape in your Garden” (featuring former PolliNation guest Linda Hardison). Andony was joined by three organizers of BEEvent, Ranee Webb (Master Gardener, President of Linn County Master Gardeners 2016-2017), Susan Morton (Master Gardener and “Bee Czar”) and Rich Little (entomologist and Master Gardener).

Listen in to learn more about the BEEvent, Oregon’s pollinator conference, and what this event provides gardeners and pollinator enthusiasts of all kinds.

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“There is a lot of hunger out there to do something to help [pollinators], but people don’t know what to do, and we’re giving them that information.” – Susan Morton

Show Notes:

  • What’s happening at this year’s BEEvent
  • Who the speakers are and what they will be speaking about
  • How attendees will learn about caring for a more diverse set of pollinators
  • Why the BEEvent is the perfect event for the curious home gardener
  • How the first BEEvent got started
  • The future of the BEEvent
  • What have been the BEEvent’s successes
  • The other ways that the organizers contribute to helping pollinators
  • How master gardeners can contribute to the cause for pollinators
  • What resources the OSU extension service provides
  • What gardening and beekeeping resources will be available at the BEEvent
  • What are the guest’s favorite books, tools, and pollinators

“Bees need more than food. They need a place to sleep and a place to rear their young, so your yard has to provide all of that.” – Rich Little

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Dr. Gail Langellotto on PolliNation with Andony Melathopoulos

Dr. Gail Langellotto is an Associate Professor of Horticulture at Oregon State University, and coordinator of OSU Extension Master Gardener program. As the secretary of the National Initiative for Consumer Horticulture, Gail works with industry, academic, and nonprofit leaders to document the benefits of home community gardening and to promote public support for research and extension in consumer horticulture.

Although her graduate and post-doctoral work was conducted in natural (e.g. forests, salt marshes, grasslands) or agricultural (e.g. cotton, papaya) areas – her first job was at a University in the south Bronx. Knowing that natural or agricultural field sites would be difficult to find – she quickly reconnected with her love for cities, and began to study the ecology of pollinators in urban community gardens.

Listen in to learn about ground nesting bees, the potential problems of plant lists, and how to maximize the benefits of urban landscapes for pollinators.

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“[A review by Garbuzov et al.] point out that many lists of plants for pollinators are put together anecdotally; they seem to represent someone’s personal preferences for particular plants and that in order to have really good information on what plants are attractive to pollinators we need more rigorous observations and research trials.“ – Dr. Gail Langellotto

Show Notes:

  • What common misconceptions and knowledge gaps exist in the field of urban landscapes and pollinators
  • Why gardeners need to consider nest sites for all bees
  • What is the impact of a few neighborhood gardeners working for pollinators
  • How urban landscape researchers secure funding and support
  • How many environmental issues that affect pollinators have public health consequences
  • Why plant lists for gardeners can be hurting pollinator habitats
  • What bees need to create their nest
  • What the nest of a ground nesting bee looks like
  • Why many gardeners are apprehensive to leave ground nesting habitat for bees
  • What is the “landscape mullet” hypothesis
  • The trick to using an aspirator to collect insects and leave the flower head intact

“A lot of [gardeners] don’t recognize the importance of nest sites for bees, and in particular, the importance of nest sites for ground nesting bees.“ – Dr. Gail Langellotto

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