Last week I attended the Pacific Northwest Pollinator Summit and Conference at Oregon State University in Corvallis. The three-day meeting brought together bee enthusiasts from a wide variety of northwest pollinator organizations to share information on their research, projects, findings, and outreach.
The program was superbly organized and fast-paced, cycling through a large number of presentations without a hitch. Featured speakers included Sam Droege (USGS), Jim Cane (USDA-ARS), Ramesh Sagili and Carolyn Breece (Oregon State Apiculture), Elino Nino (UC Davis), Rich Hatfield (Xerces Society), Lincoln Best (Calgary) and dozens of others.
All kinds of bees
The thing that attracted me to this particular meeting was the dual emphasis on managed bees and wild pollinators. If you are a regular reader of Honey Bee Suite, you know I believe both types of bees are necessary to sustain a healthy natural environment and also provide enough pollinators for intensive modern agriculture.
Mutual respect for both types of pollinator can be a tough sell, but this conference managed a seamless integration. Sections included pollinators in managed forests, pollinator habitat restoration, pollinators in agriculture, managed bees of different types, urban pollinators, and advancements in pollinator education (for humans—the bees already know this stuff).
The third day of the conference was broken into four workshops. Depending on your interests you could attend a forest pollinator field trip, learn about designing and establishing pollinator landscapes, brush up on honey bee pest and disease diagnosis, or learn the basics of native bee taxonomy. Picking a workshop was a tough decision. Given the chance, I would have attended all four.
Everyone has personal reasons for attending a conference like this. For me it was a chance to learn about advancements in pollinator research and collect ideas for writing blog posts and magazine articles. I came home with dozens of ideas and some new interests, too.
Living adjacent to a “working forest,” I was especially intrigued by the discussion of forest pollinators and the concept of a replanted forest as a pollinator reservoir. Equally interesting is the relationship between wildfires and pollinator diversity, and pollinators in dry-land agriculture.
I was also able to get answers to my questions about mason bees. Just like honey bee management, mason bee management is buried within a vast mythology of “always do this” and “never do that.” And, just as I suspected, a lot of the conventional wisdom doesn’t make any sense. It was really nice to be able to ask multiple experts about methods that actually work, and learn the science behind them.
Thanks to the organizers
If you get an opportunity to attend a diverse pollinator event like this, be sure to go. You may be surprised by how many ways we can help pollinators in our everyday lives. And what better way to learn than by listening to the folks who are out there doing them. Although I write about pollinators nearly every day, I came away eager to get started on new projects. Plus, I can’t wait to share what I’ve learned.
I want to thank the organizers of the Pacific Northwest Pollinator Summit, including Andony Melathopoulos, Sarah Kincaid, and Jen Holt for creating a valuable and well-designed conference. Thank you for having us!
Honey Bee Suite