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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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