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Science, Policy, and Passion Reflect Challenges Facing Bees

Recorded on: Friday December 4th, 2015

Air Date: Monday December 7th, 2015

Seven times in the past two years, Oregon was the site of bee die-offs involving hundreds of thousands of bees. Each event was associated with the use of neonicotinoid pesticides. Bees are vital to a functional ecosystem — and food production.

The speakers will discuss the role and importance of bees as crucial pollinators of both wild and cultivated  plants. In addition to the familiar honey bee, another 4,000 species of bees native to the United States often go unnoticed. They, too, provide valuable pollination of native plants and food crops.

Bees now face a number of challenges: parasites and pathogens, poor nutrition, and pesticides. The speakers will review those risks in Oregon and across the nation and describe ongoing efforts to promote bee health. They will describe innovative educational projects and steps that each of us can take to promote and conserve our important pollinators.

Oregon State University hosts a research lab that aims to identify the challenges facing bees and seek potential solutions. Nonprofit organizations like the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation study and report on the role habitat loss and pesticides that affect pollinators. Local bee advocates like Healthy Bees = Healthy Gardens work with schools and neighborhoods to promote organic gardening and other activities that can save bees.

Ramesh Sagili (Assistant Professor, Apiculture, Department of Horticulture, OSU) earned his PhD in Entomology from Texas A&M University in 2007. He was instrumental in creating the Oregon Master Beekeeper Program in 2010 and chaired the Governor’s Task Force on Pollinator Health in 2014. He teaches Honey Bee Biology and beekeeping. His primary research focus is honey bee health, nutrition, and pollination.

Aimee Code (Pesticide Program Director, Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation) has worked to protect people and the environment from pesticides for more than 17 years. Her work with communities around the country helps them to create policies and practices that can protect pollinators from pesticides. At OSU, Code earned her MS in Environmental Health with a minor in Toxicology.

Jen Hornaday and her husband Doug started beekeeping in the spring of 2011 and created a neighborhood organization dedicated to the preservation of honeybees less than a year later. The Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides awarded the couple its Rachel Carson award in 2013. This year’s educational grant from Symantec allows the Hornadays to continue teaching 3rd and 4th graders about the importance of honey bees in the environment.

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