Hannah Levenson is a North Carolina native with a diverse research background ranging from working on reef degradation in The Bahamas to the impacts of pesticide applications on honey bee hives in South Dakota. Now she is a graduate student in Entomology with a co-major in Biology at North Carolina State University working under Dr. David Tarpy. She is currently conducting a state-wide survey on native bee populations across North Carolina, which will be the most detailed dataset in the state to date. One area of particular focus within this research is looking at impacts of conservation efforts on native bee populations over time as well as various pollinator interactions. Hannah’s project addresses a large knowledge gap on native bee populations and will aid in making future conservation decisions. After graduation she plans to continue a career in bee research and become more involved in international work.
Dr. Mia Park is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Biological Sciences Department at North Dakota State University, Fargo.
Dr. Park’s research asks, “Who are our wild pollinators? How are they impacted by anthropogenic disturbance? How can we manage landscapes in a manner that supports their abundance and health?”.
Current projects focus on benefits of pollinator planting in both urban and rural settings for pollinator health. Previously, Dr. Park taught in the Integrated Studies Program at University of North Dakota. She received her PhD in Entomology and MS in Natural Resources at Cornell University, Ithaca, NY. Dr. Park is passionate about insect conservation and has worked with non-profit organizations around the world.
Although we estimate there are 500 species of bees in Oregon, there has never been a concerted survey of the state’s bees. Without even a checklist of species, it is very difficult to know whether the health of Oregon bees is improving or declining. The Oregon Bee Atlas represents the first steps towards confronting the gulf in our knowledge about the bees of Oregon.
The success of the Oregon Bee Atlas, like Oregon Flora, rests on the shoulders of committed volunteers. The Oregon Bee Atlas’ four year mission (2018-2021) is to train volunteers to explore Oregon Counties, to seek out new native bee records for the state, to boldly go where no amateur melittologist has gone before! These new specimen records will be added to newly digitized historic records from the Oregon State Arthropod Collection to build the first comprehensive account of the native bee fauna of Oregon.
Joining us to talk about the Atlas is Lincoln Best, the Atlas’ Lead Taxonomist. Lincoln was also featured on episode 50 last year.
“It’s easy to document common species; it’s really difficult to assess the extreme biodiversity that exists here.”
– Lincoln Best.
In this episode, Aaron Anderson, a Ph.D. student in the OSU Department of Horticulture, talks about his research on gardening with native plants. Under the direction of Dr. Gail Langellotto, Aaron is researching native plants that support ecosystem services; that gardeners find attractive, and that they would want.
Currently, Aaron is running a large field trial at OSU’s North Willamette Research Center studying 23 native Willamette Valley wildflower species. Aaron monitors the floral bloom, performs timed pollinator observations, and samples the insect community on each plot. Additionally, he is currently asking gardeners to rank the aesthetics of these flowers via an online survey. From this research, Aaron plans on developing pollinator-friendly planting lists of PNW native wildflowers that are also attractive to home gardeners.
Listen in to learn what native plants are best for your garden, both for increasing the health of local pollinators and adding beauty to your garden.
Dr. Elina L Niño’s research interests are broad and range from understanding reproductive processes involved in queen bee mating to developing and evaluating new control methods to combat Varroa mites. More recent research efforts have focused on understanding benefits of supplemental forage crops within agricultural systems. In her extension role, Niño is overseeing the recently UC ANR funded Master Beekeeper Program at UC Davis. Her program offers many beekeeping courses and upcoming efforts will focus on the development of the Pollinator Education Program for kids and youth.
Listen in to learn how growers can improve their pollinator effectiveness, the benefits of certain overwintering solutions, and the key to great queens.
“I know there’s a lot of talk about letting natural selection do it’s thing, but we have to think about what we’re doing. When we put the bee colony into a hive, it’s no longer considered to be, in my mind, natural. So I think they definitely need some help.” – Dr. Elina L Niño
Why almond growers were particularly nervous about this years pollination
The different overwintering options and how different farmers and beekeepers have adapted
How growers are getting forage into their orchards
Why growers should consider adding mustard to their orchard and let it go to seed
What makes Northern California such a great place to make a queen
Why these high quality queens can perform poorly
How beekeepers, growers, and regulators came together to protect bees, and what they created to do it
The Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven at UC Davis, and why it was created
“There’s no doubt in my mind that there is a way to do breeding in a proper way, without putting the agriculture at risk.” – Dr. Elina L Niño
Dr. Cane is a Research Entomologist with the USDA’s Pollinating Insect-Biology, Management, Systematics Research in Logan, UT. Dr. Cane has been interested in comparative studies of solitary bees for 30 years, beginning with the evolutionary origins and use of lipid exocrine secretions to attract mates, repel predators, supplement larval diets, waterproof, and disinfect their nests. Work with these bees naturally led to study of their pollination services in both wildland and agricultural settings. A bee species’ pollination value reflects its sustainable abundance, wherein habitat carrying capacity is capped by nesting opportunities and foraging success. Dr. Cane has applied his long-term interest in conservation to help measure, understand, and mitigate human factors that can shift nesting and foraging opportunities for bee communities such as climate change, urban sprawl, habitat fragmentation, and rangeland rehabilitation.
Listen in to learn about the two key pollinators of alfalfa seed: the alfalfa leafcutter bee and alkali bee.
“There is no crop has more flowers per acre than alfalfa – way into the millions per acre – and less pollen and nectar per flower.” – Jim Cane
Why alfalfa is such a prominent feed stock
What makes alfalfa a specialized crop for pollinators
Why honey bees are not ideal pollinators for alfalfa
How farmers learned to make use of alfalfa leaf-cutting bees
Why alkali bees are the eighth wonder of the world
Whether or not other species of bees can be managed like the alkali bee
The challenges of managing alkali bees
Qualities to look for in a hand lens for bee observation
“An alkali bee, in her entire lifetime– all of her foraging, all of her flower visitation, she sets about 25 cents worth of seed, about a quarter pound or a third of a pound of alfalfa seed.” – Jim Cane
Pierre Lau is a Ph.D. candidate at Texas A&M University, where he has devoted his time and effort to studying honey bee nutritional ecology. He started building his academic resume at the University of California, San Diego and California State Polytechnic University, Fullerton with honey bee behavioral and native bee pollination studies. As an emerging scientist in the field of honey bee nutritional ecology, Pierre has studied honey bee salt preferences in water, the types of plants honey bees collect pollen from in urban environments, and colony-level macronutrient preferences.
Listen in to learn all about pollen: how to collect and identify it, how it can be used in forensics, and the tools that researchers have developed to source it from particular plants.
“The fun thing about pollen and why palynology is a thing is that every species of plant will produce a unique pollen grain to that species. We can play CSI and forensics here: when you look at the pollen that honey bees collect, you can trace it back to the plant that they were actually visiting.” – Pierre Lau
The different kinds of pollen and it’s structure
How the FBI uses pollen to find criminals
How to collect pollen
Why the process of identifying pollen can be dangerous
How Lau is helping Texas beekeepers track the source of their honey
How Nuclear Magnetic Resonance can be used to discover the chemical fingerprint of honey originating in a particular region
Why honey is one of the top 10 most adulterated products in the United States
“A lot of times when I would sample pollen pellets and beekeepers have a guess about what their bees are collecting, they would be very surprised about what the results actually show. That’s because I think that we are very focused on what we can see: the flowering plants on the floor or shrubs. But a lot of times, the bees will actually go up into trees for their pollen.” – Pierre Lau
Dr. Casey Delphia is a Research Scientist at Montana State University and Associate Curator of Apoidea in the Montana Entomology Collection (MTEC) where she conducts research on managed solitary bees and wild native bees in agricultural and wildland ecosystems. Projects include evaluating the use of wildflower strips for supporting bees and pollination services on farmlands and, most recently, documenting the wild bees of Montana. Towards building a comprehensive bee species list for the state, Casey co-authored the Bumble Bees of Montana as well as two recent checklists. In her spare time, Casey enjoys collecting bees in the desert southwest, the tropics of Belize, and the many interesting habitats found throughout Montana.
Listen in to learn about Dr. Delphia’s bee atlas projects, why Montana is a “black hole” of bee data, and where to find the coolest native bees of Montana.
“It’s really great to be working on bees in Montana and it’s also not so great. It’s great because there are so many things to discover and it’s also not so great because there are so many things to discover.” – Dr. Casey Delphia
Where to find the coolest native bees of Montana
What Dr. Delphia is hoping to accomplish in her recent bumblebee atlas project
Why Montana is a “black hole” of bee data
The challenges of bumblebee identification
Dr. Delphia’s upcoming project documenting the native bees of Montana
How Dr. Delphia collects specimens for her research
Dr. Delphia’s go-to tools for the field and the lab
“When somebody starts working with bumblebees and then they tell me it’s easy, then I realize they’re really not paying attention and they don’t know what they’re doing. The more you learn, the more you question what you know.” – Dr. Casey Delphia
This week we talk with Kim Flottum. Kim has not only thought long and hard about communicating with people of bees, as editor of Bee Culture and BEEKeeping magazines, but he has a tremendous sense of the history of this endeavor, being situated in the historic A. I. Root Company in Medina, OH. Kim is also invested in the future of teaching people about bees with initiatives such as the KIM&JIM Show webinars with Jim Tew and Beekeeping Today podcasts with Jeff Ott.
Learn how Kim Flottum is taking beekeeping education into the future, and how he is following in legendary beekeeping educator Amos Root’s footsteps.
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.
“Golf courses are these really unique islands of vegetation within these urban lands.” – Rebecca Perry
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