Amy Cox on PolliNation with Andony Melathopoulos

How can we ask not what greenspaces can do for us but what greenspaces can do for the environment? Portland-based Pro Time Lawn Seed was one of the first businesses to tackle this question, with the founder of the company developing low-maintenance and low-input lawn seed mixes, and the new owners expanding the mission to promote pollinator habitat, species diversity and soil health. PolliNation wanted to learn more, so in this episode, I visit an eco-lawn in a Portland backyard with Pro Time owner Amy Cox (on the left, also in the picture are co-owners Josh Middleton and Dawn Griffin). We look over a lawn seeded with Fleur de Lawn, a mix developed in conjunction with Dr. Tom Cook at Oregon State University, who began working on lawn alternatives in 1985. We talk about the benefits of using eco-lawns, how they work, and to establish them, and then walk across the lawns looking for bees. Pro Time has seventeen new eco-lawn, meadow, wildflower and native seed mixes in their selection.

Listen in to learn more about eco-lawns, what brought Amy into this business, and what makes eco-lawns ideal for all different kinds of home owners.

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“I think I’ve always wanted to something that helped other people, and that’s turned into something that can not only help people, but animals, insects, and the environment.” – Amy Cox

Show Notes:

  • How Amy got into the eco-lawn business
  • What still inspires Amy about this business
  • The benefits of having and keeping an eco-lawn
  • How easy it is to maintain an eco-lawn
  • What makes eco-lawns easier to maintain than regular lawns
  • The different types of eco-lawns and where they are best suited
  • Why Pro Time Lawn Seed began working on the eco-lawn
  • Why the Pacific Northwest is the ideal place for this kind of business to thrive
  • How Pro Time Lawn Seed bridges the gap between them and science and education
  • What separates Amy’s company from others in the seed business
  • What is in Pro Time Lawn Seed’s seed mixes

“Probably all that’s required [in maintaining an eco-lawn] is a little bit of patience, maybe following a bit of instruction, but it’s not difficult.” – Amy Cox

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Dr Sara Galbraith on PolliNation with Andony Melathopoulos

Dr. Sara Galbraith is a postdoctoral researcher in the Forest Animal Ecology Lab at Oregon State University in the Department of Forest Ecosystems and Society. She has a B.A. in Biology from St. Olaf College and a Ph.D. in Entomology from the University of Idaho and the Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center in Costa Rica. Her research focuses on understanding the influence of human-caused and natural disturbances on pollinator communities, especially in forest habitats. Sara has studied how land use change in Costa Rica and wildfire severity in southwestern Oregon influence wild bee communities, and she is currently investigating the influence of forest management on pollinator health in the Oregon coast range. Outside of work, Sara enjoys hiking with her dog and watching the Great British Baking Show.

Listen in to learn how forests are managed, how it affects pollinator habitat, and how bioassays gather essential insights into improving pollinator health.

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“We know so much about these mason bees and some of the other species that we manage that could work for these types of experiments, that it gives us the abilities to test all sorts of hypotheses.” – Dr. Sara Galbraith

Show Notes:

  • How forests are managed, and why that affects the bees we see
  • Why herbicides can affect bee habitats in very complex ways
  • How researchers learn the ways that habitats are affected by forest management
  • The methodological challenges of researching the changing bee habitats
  • What can be learned through using the bioassay in studying pollinators
  • Why forests are so important to the ecosystem of the Pacific Northwest
  • What is measured in a bioassay
  • How the myriad data collected through the bioassay can be used
  • The ways that natural disasters affect pollinator habitats in forests
  • What Sara and her team are currently working on
  • What wood lot owners can do to help their pollinator habitats thrive

”There are a lot of challenges in measuring the quality of habitat for bees, especially because they are such mobile organisms. So some of our biggest challenges are really methodological.” – Dr. Sara Galbraith

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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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Alan Turanski on PolliNation with Andony Melathopoulos

Alan leads vision, innovation and continuous improvements at GloryBee. Ranging from sustainability, technology, facilities and being a cause forward company, he is committed to ensuring GloryBee is a business as a force for good. Alan is an advocate for the honeybee and was also a driving force in developing GloryBee’s Save the Bee initiative, which donates to bee-saving projects. As a beekeeper, and someone who is considered knowledgeable in the field, Alan has served as spokesperson for the plight of the honeybee and promotion of conservation efforts, including testifying at the Oregon State Capitol in 2013 on the issue of honey bee colony losses.

Listen in as we talk about the Alan’s work with GloryBee, their raising of bee awareness, and how beginning beekeepers can get started.

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“Beekeeping is a beautiful balance between art and science, and the best beekeepers are very knowledgable scientifically, but they also instinctually are in tune with the bees.“ – Alan Turanski

Show Notes:

  • Why Alan became involved in helping save the bees
  • What Alan hoped to accomplish with his “Save The Bee” campaign
  • Why investing in education is so important to Alan
  • How the “Save The Bee” program works to help bees
  • How GloryBee has spread their message through partnerships
  • The process that honey goes through from honeycomb to store shelves
  • The many expected and unexpected flavors of honey
  • How beekeepers use the byproducts from collecting honey
  • Alan’s favorite tool and non-tool

“These [bees] are amazing creatures. The more you learn, the more you’re fascinated, and the more you’re enthralled.“ – Alan Turanski

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Sarah Johnson is the lead biologist for Wildlife Preservation Canada’s Native Pollinator Initiative. WPC is a nation-wide organization focusing on hands-on recovery initiatives for critically endangered species, and the pollinator initiative supports Canadian bumble bee recovery through a diverse set of programs. As WPC’s lead pollinator biologist, Sarah has overseen a variety of citizen science training programs, runs multiple field-based research and monitoring projects, and leads the development of a captive breeding program for the at-risk yellow-banded bumble bee. Prior to her current position with WPC, Sarah received a BSc in Natural Sciences from the University of Calgary – during which she published on a project investigating how wing wear affects bumble bee’s weight lifting ability – as well as an MSc in Ecology, examining how clearcut logging impacts bee-pollinated wildflower reproduction in the foothills of Alberta’s Rocky Mountains. Sarah was also involved in the initiation of a long-term research program exploring how the agricultural landscape in southern Alberta affects pollinator diversity. As evidenced through her work, Sarah’s passion lies in the furriest (and most charming) of the pollinators: the bumble bee. However, she is also interested in conservation education, public engagement, and answering broader questions on what factors shape ecological communities.

Listen in as we talk about the bee population of Canada, her new captive breeding project, and how citizen science positively impacts her research.

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“We’re seeing sightings in areas where we didn’t know species extended to, and this is because of submissions by citizen scientists.” – Sarah Johnson

Show Notes:

  • What is happening in the bumblebee populations of Canada
  • How the Bumblebee Recovery Initiative is helping pollinators
  • What their new captive breeding project is hoping to accomplish
  • What qualities Sarah is looking for in the queen bumblebees they are breeding
  • How Wildlife Preservation Canada uses citizen science
  • Why Bumblebee Watch is such an invaluable resource to conservation researchers
  • How one citizen scientist made a breakthrough discovery
  • How Sarah’s organization trains citizen scientists
  • What makes a good bumblebee picture for submission
  • What Sarah recommends to help raise public awareness of pollinators and their involvement

[Wilson et al.] surveyed a wide variety of people, and the vast majority of them think bees are important but nobody really knows what a bee is versus what a fly is.“ – Sarah Johnson

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David Phipps is considered one of the Northwest’s leaders in golf course environmental stewardship and innovation. While working as the superintendent at Stone Creek Golf, he received the GCSAA President’s Award for Environmental Stewardship in 2012, as well as the 2004-2005 Cooperator of the Year by the Clackamas County Soil and Water Conservation District. David received a Bachelor of Science Degree from Oregon State University in Horticulture, Turf and Landscape Management, and currently works for the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America as the NW Region Field Staff Representative.

Today we’re talking about pollinator habitats curated within golf courses, how they can best be utilized, and David’s amazing contributions to conservation and the golf industry.

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“I think there’s a place in almost every model of golf course [for pollinators].” – David Phipps

Show Notes:

  • How David became involved in the intersection of golf and conservation
  • Why David’s program became the gold standard for golf courses around the country
  • How courses around the world have contributed to pollinators in different ways
  • The ways David developed the habitat alongside the course
  • What lessons David has learned from the pollinator habitat projects
  • How irrigation and improper preparation can cause habitats to fail
  • The way that pollinators fit into different kinds of courses

“If you’ve got an area that’s not going to see balls landing but you can still benefit from the beautification of the wildflowers, those are areas that can be utilized.” – David Phipps

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