Public radio station WKAR interviewed Prof. Rufus Isaacs (MSU), the Principle Investigator of the Integrated Crop Pollination Project! In this interview Rufus talks about his research and how to support crop pollinators.
“MSU Today” published a story with an overview of what researchers on the Integrated Crop Pollination Project are learning about specialty crop pollination in the United States. Read the full story here.
The Integrated Crop Pollination Project has released the summary report from its
2015 survey of California almond growers’ pollination practices. This is the third in a series of reports summarizing grower pollination practices in specialty crops around the United States. Previously, published reports focused on Michigan blueberry and Florida blueberry.
The survey of 550 almond growers in five California counties (Fresno, Glenn, Kern, Stanislaus, and Riverside) delved into growers’ goals for pollination management, networks of information sources about pollination, and past, current, and potential future practices related to managing and supporting pollinators in almond orchards.
The large majority of CA almond growers depend on honey bees for pollination and, in general, rely on honey bees more than blueberry growers (93% of almond growers buy, rent, or own managed honey bees, compared with 79% of Michigan blueberry growers and 61% of Florida blueberry growers). On-going research aims to understand how to integrate honey bees with Blue Orchard Bees and wild, native bees to improve pollination.
Many almond growers reported using reduced-risk pesticide practices to help protect pollinators. These practices included modifying spray times for pesticides and minimizing and choosing products with the least toxic active ingredient.
Grower adoption of practices to increase forage and habitat resources for bees was modest; roughly 20% reported using practices that provide floral and nesting resources to attract diverse pollinators.
The research team will be conducting a follow-up survey in winter 2016-2017 in California and other states surveyed in 2015 (including Michigan, Oregon, and Florida) to continue learning about pollination management practices.
by Mary Bammer, Extension Coordinator, Ellis Lab (University of Florida)
This was the first male southern carpenter bee I had ever seen. When it first flitted past, I thought it might be a dragonfly with its loud wings and flashy colors. After chasing it around a blueberry field for the better part of an hour, I was now sure of two things: this was actually a bee, and it was in fact the coolest bee in existence. As if its rusty orange thorax and metallic dark blue abdomen weren’t enough, this robust bee had lime green eyes! Being relatively new to both Florida and bee research, I had no idea that southern carpenter bees (Xylocopa micans) are in fact quite common, particularly in the central Florida blueberry fields in which I was working. I have seen many of these friendly creatures since, but am always reminded of my first encounter with the southern carpenter bee when I was sure I had discovered the rarest bee in the state.
Check out the Honey Bee Research and Extension Laboratory at University of Florida on their website and Facebook!
Pollination is a critical ecosystem service for Vermont crops that can be improved by conserving bees and other pollinators. To manage pollination well, we need information about the local and landscape factors that influence the activity, diversity and economic role of pollinators. We are researching how landscape factors and farm management practices affect pollination services from wild bee to blueberry farms in the Champlain basin. Students will join a team of faculty, postdocs, and graduate students at the UVM Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural resources. Successful applicants will have a strong interest in pollinators, botany, field biology, landscape or community ecology. Specific tasks will include field-based plant identification, bee observation/collection, and pollen limitation experiments. We expect that REU students will gain interdisciplinary knowledge in the areas of agroecology, landscape ecology, and natural resource management, as well as skills in plant/pollinator identification, specimen curation, and data analysis. This experience is expected to comprise fieldwork (70% time), laboratory work (20% time), and computer work (10% time).
Funded by the National Science Foundation, REU students will participate in an interdisciplinary cooperative model that promotes integrated thinking across disciplines within and between the natural and social sciences. Full-time undergraduate students with an anticipated graduation date after June 2016 are encouraged to apply, including high school seniors entering undergraduate study in 2016. Participants must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents and must be 18 years or older before May 31, 2016. Students from institutions with limited research opportunities and underrepresented groups are especially encouraged to apply.
The USDA-ARS Pollinating Insect Research Unit in Logan, Utah, is currently recruiting graduate students for both M.Sc. and Ph.D. programs at Utah State University. The PIRU is a national leader in pollinator research focused on native and managed bees. Located on the Utah State University campus in beautiful northern Utah, the lab offers opportunities for students to study a variety of topics related to pollinators in addition to the high quality of life that comes with living in the mountains of Utah. Research assistantships are available to qualified applicants and applicants are encouraged to contact the bee lab with questions.
Research Topics of Interest
Laboratory and field studies to improve the management of non-Apis bees.
Bee pathology including the interaction of honey bees and native bees and the dynamics of pathogen spread as influenced by parasites, nutrition and sublethal pesticide exposure.
Development of models that explain and/or predict pollinator declines.
Alfalfa leafcutting bee and blue orchard bee sustainability: environmental impacts, lethal and sublethal pesticide effects, parasite biology and control.
Bumble bee biology, reproduction, foraging, and crop pollination efficacy.
Bee taxonomy, systematics, biogeography, and population genetics.