Watermelons are hard notoriously to pollinate. But pollination is not their only problem; they can also experience reduced yield from pest damage. This week we hear from Jacob Pecenka, a PhD candidate at Purdue Universtity, from who tells us about the trade-offs from managing pests and loosing pollination and how Integrated Pest Management can provide an excellent way to navigate these trade-offs.

Jacob grew up in South Dakota, where agriculture was never too far away. He started his PhD in the Entomology Department in 2017. His research examines how the insecticide inputs change agricultural cropping systems. Specifically he is looking at pest/pollinator dynamics in Indiana watermelon production and how insecticides in the melons, as well as adjacent crops, alter pest insects, beneficial pollinators, and ultimately the yield and profitability of these operations. When not stomping through melon fields in a bee suit he fills his time visiting Indiana’s many state parks with my trusty dog Thea.

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Links Mentioned:

IPM Revisited: A Cost-effective Solution for Balancing Pest and Pollinator Management (Jacob Pecenka, October 24, 2018)

Jacob’s Book Recommendation: The Bees in Your Backyard: A Guide to North America’s Bees (Wilson and Carril, 2015)

Go to tool: Bee vacuum

Favorite Pollinator:  Melissodes bimaculatus

There has been a lot of demand for nursery plants that are good for pollinators, but also confusion on whether these plants have been grown using practices that minimize impacts to pollinators. This week we hear from Sharon Selvaggio, Program Director at Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides (NCAP), about a pilot study (conducted along with Lloyd Nackley from the OSU Hort Ecology lab and Bruce Colman from Woodburn Nursery)  to see what consumers respond to when labeling pollinator plants around the practices they were grown under.  Sharon has experience with pesticide risk assessment and mitigation and holds a seat on EPA’s Pesticide Program Dialogue Committee, a federal advisory group. She works to provide training and information on alternatives to pesticides for in agricultural, landscape, and residential settings. She is the author of Water is the Connection: Mitigating Pesticide Risk for Salmon Recovery. She previously worked for 27 years as a biologist and refuge manager for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Forest Service, and she holds an M.S. in Energy and Resources and a B.A. in Biology, both from the University of California at Berkeley.

Links Mentioned:

Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides (NCAP)

The value of the green label (March 27, 2019, Lloyd Nackley, Bruce Colman and Sharon Selvaggio)

Sharon’s Book Recommendation:  Attracting Beneficial Bugs to Your Garden: A natural approach to pest control (Jessica Walliser)

Go to tool: Twitter @PNWNurseryIPM (Robin Rosetta), @finegardening, @BeesBackyard

Favorite Pollinator:  Fenders blue butterfly (Icaricia icarioides fenderi)

To mark 100 episodes of PolliNation we have assembled the dedicated faculty from OSU to answer your questions:

Thanks again to Sean Rooney from The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) for hosting us at Bug Week and for all the people who submitted questions for the show. We always love your questions, so keep them rolling.

Links Mentioned:

Do bees dream? The article Jennifer Holt mentions is: Kaiser, W., 1988. Busy bees need rest, too. Journal of Comparative physiology A163(5), pp.565-584.

Megachilid Bees in the Pacific Northwest: An Introduction (OSU Extension, 2016)

Nurturing Mason Bees in Your Backyard in Western Oregon (OSU Extension, 2016)

Example of wooden blocks with different hole sizes mentioned by Lincoln Best during the show.

Still room available for the 2019 Bee School – Native Bee Taxonomy Course:

Registration link

Adam Allington in a reporter with Bloomberg Environment in Washington DC. He covers environmental issues including pesticides and chemicals. Prior to coming to Bloomberg he spent more than ten years working in public radio. Over the course of one year, Adam, along with environment reporters David Schultz and Tiffany Stecker traveled to all corners of the honeybee ecosystem from Washington, D.C., to the California almond fields, and orchards of the upper Midwest to examine the changing relationship between commercial pollination and US food production. There findings are featured in a new Bloomberg podcast: The Business of Bees.

Links Mentioned:

The Business of Bees podcast (iTunes)

The Big Business of Bees (Bloomberg, May 16, 2019)

EPA Curbs Use of 12 Bee-Harming Pesticides (Bloomberg Environment, May 21, 2019)

Last Chance to register for the 2019 Bee School (Native Bee Taxonomy Course):

Bob Falconer joined the OSU Master Gardeners in 2009 but has been gardening since the 1970s. He’s been involved with horticulture since high school, with experience spanning 50 years. He was part of the team that developed and piloted OSU Extension’s Ask an Expert app, which received the OSU Vice Provost Award for Excellence. Falconer has served multiple terms as president of the Washington County Master Gardener Association. He also an Oregon Master Beekeeper. Bob knows how to grow stuff – he even has bananas growing in his yard. This week he shares his secrets on how to establish magnificent strips of Phacelia and clover.

Links Mentioned:

Hubram Clover (1916, Iowa State)

Crimson Clover (Western SARE)

Lacy Phacelia (NRCS)

Pollinator Palooza (June 22, 2019, Jackson Bottom Wetland Park)

Bob’s Phacelia planted in the spring

Bob’s crimson clover seeded last fall

Bob’s mower for chopping up the plants after they have made seed.

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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

Links Mentioned: