In this episode, Kirsten meets up with Dr. Rachael Bonoan, a bee biologist and ecologist. Bees have some unusual and quirky behaviors. We had a chance to chat about bumble bee high fives, why honey bees like stinky, dirty water, and how our pollinators may be seeking out unusual food sources to gain important minerals. Rachael tells us about doing science in Costa Rica, where she looked into the foraging habits of vulture bees that turn carrion into slurpy meat soup. To her astonishment, some bees that normally collect pollen also loaded up bits of meat into their pollen carrying corbicula, wearing little packets of shredded chicken.
Rachael has spent the last two summers searching for the rare Puget butterfly in the Pacific Northwest. She and her team were hoping to locate the caterpillar in the wild so they could document its feeding habits and interactions with ants. But despite roaming the prairie landscape with up to nine people, they found only a handful—definitely not enough to say anything conclusive.
She’s just taken a new job as an assistant professor at Providence College in Rhode Island, where she will once again be studying honey bees—her favorite pollinator as they both stay busy, work tirelessly and fuel their adventures with sweets. Listen in.
In this episode, Kirsten chats with commercial beekeeper Simeon Valkenburg, who runs a commercial operation with his brother in Australia. He talks about building up their commercial operation from scratch. They started with one hive and are now up to about 1,000 hives in south east Australia.
The season kicks off with almond pollination. Yes, that’s right—Australian almonds which bloom in August. They then move colonies into crops like canola or beans or move into areas flush with a low desert eucalypt, which under the right weather conditions can produce a huge honey harvest. In their summer they chase after pollen, not for trapping, but simply for building up the bees. Sometimes they have to scramble and run their bees away from bushfires.
The conversation ranges widely, discussing everything from ornery beekeepers with deep political connections to conducting successful field days and the trade war with New Zealand over the name ‘manuka’. Tune in to learn more about keeping bees Downunder.
Madeleine studies bees, having worked with both honey bees and carpenter bees. When days get hot, we seek out ways to cool off with water. As an undergraduate student in Tom Seeley’s lab, Madeleine turned up the heat on a honey bee hive to find out just how they do this. Some bees adapt to heat stress by acting like water storage containers, always ready to chill things down when days get hot.
Now Madeleine investigates desert carpenter bees in Arizona. Wood is a precious resource in these barren lands, so carpenter bees end up sharing a home. To learn how these large bees shape, modify, and change their nest structures over time, she enlisted the help of a local hospital and their CT-scanner.
Also in today’s episode, Kim reviews the new book by Jay Evans, USDA Bee Research Leader at Beltsville, and regular columnist for Bee Culture magazine. Lots to learn, lots to hear. Hit the play button now! Listen to this episode and check out more details from Madeleine's research:
Maddie's carpenter bee video showing the CAT scan results.
This week, Beekeeping Today guest co-host Kirsten Traynor chats with Adam Ingrao, Ph.D, founder of Heroes to Hive. Heroes to Hives is a veterans training program he started five years ago. They train veterans, especially those suffering from PTSD, how to manage honey bee hives and get started in beekeeping. Over 500 vets and family members are enrolled in this free program this year, making it one of the largest vet training programs in the US.
Kirsten also talks with Adam about his own struggles with opioids, how honey bees helped him regain purpose. Why does beekeeping appeal to vets? Often vets have their minds filled with memories and have trouble focusing, are looking for a mission again and can connect with other vets who have a shared interest in nurturing something living that’s also a tad dangerous.
Heroes to Hives is based out of Michigan State University, where Adam collaborates closely with extension agent Dr. Megan Milbrath. Bees are the perfect gateway bug, opening up a greater appreciation for nature, which is just one of the interesting impacts of the Heroes to Hives program. Listen in to find out more.
As part of pollinator week 2020, I chat with Dr. Dave Goulson, an expert on pollinator health from the University of Sussex. Goulson has been fascinated with insects since he was a boy and was able to turn this love of all things that fly, creep and crawl into a career. One of the bumble bees from his childhood became extinct in the 1980s, so he and his research team tried to reintroduce it to the UK, first from New Zealand and then from Sweden. Although they released countless queens over multiple years, it did not reestablish. However, the new habitat they created to help it thrive has been a boon for many other rare bumble bees. We also chat about his efforts to restore the farmland around his summer home in France to a wildflower rich meadow and the insect diversity that has returned to this nectar rich habitat. And if he had to pick a pollinator avatar, Dave would be a hairy footed flower bee—Anthophora plumipes—even though he doesn’t have hairy feet. Tune in.
I had a chance to talk about how I first got into bees, the medicinal benefits of honey, my current research into how pesticides disrupt colony behavior and the future of the beekeeping industry with Australian beekeeper and podcast host Bees with Ben. Australia is lucky because they have not yet experienced varroa. Ben and I had so much fun delving into these diverse topics.
Kirsten sits down and chats bees and disease with beekeeper and extension agent Dr. Meghan Milbrath. The two talk about varroa management, how to keep apiaries clean from a veterinarian's point of view, and the mass outbreaks of European foulbrood during blueberry pollination in Michigan. Listen in to Season 2, Episode 33.
Loving the Queen Bee!
Guest co-host and 2 Million Blossoms editor, Kirsten Traynor and Tucka Saville chat this week, talking about treatment free beekeeping, keeping bees in Florida and upstate New York, and raising queens. Listen to Season 2, Episode 31.
There is nothing like browsing though a magazine. There are some great beekeeping magazines, but what’s missing is a magazine devoted to pollinators more broadly. Enter 2 Million Blossoms, a new quarterly magazine launched in January 2020. We talk to the Kirsten Traynor, the editor, about the magazine and how it aims to fill this gap. Listen today.
Dr. Kirsten Traynor joins Beekeeping Today Podcast to talk about her new quarterly publication, 2 Million Blossoms. 2 Million Blossoms is dedicated to "protecting our pollinators - both wild and managed, before they disappear." The inaugural issue includes articles by Dr. Marla Spivak, Craig Childs, Dr. Dave Goulson, and Dr. Mark Winston and is designed to look great on any coffee table, with beautiful photographs and illustrations.
Why 2 Million Blossoms? Honey bees must visit 2 million blossoms to create 1 pound of honey! Listen to Season 2, Episode 9.