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Pollinator Power short course to examine threats to all bees
Ohio Correspondent

WOOSTER, Ohio — With a shortage of bees from varying factors, experts at Ohio State University’s Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) are to address this worrisome issue at a workshop March 14-15.

“We depend on bee pollinators for much of what we eat and drink, and bees are also essential to ecological health,” said Denise Ellsworth, director of the Honey Bee and Native Pollinator Education Program at OARDC’s Department of Entomology.

According to her, the short course targets farmers, gardeners, beekeepers and naturalists with an interest in bees. The event will be at the OARDC Wooster campus.

“Worldwide, bees are threatened due to habitat loss, pests, pesticides, climate change and more,” Ellsworth said. “This two-day workshop will focus on the biology, identification and conservation of native bees.”

For the past decade bee colony populations have dwindled, thanks mostly to pests in the hives such as varroa mites and tracheal mites. Much of the loss was attributed to colony collapse disorder, or CCD. In the time since, bee experts have concluded there are a number of factors for the limited population of both honeybees and bumblebees.

Topics to be covered during the short course include pollination biology, native bee identification, garden-variety bees and “confused cousins,” threats to pollinators, the status of honeybees and native plants for native bees.

“Participants of this short course will learn from national experts about bees and bee health, get an up-close look at bees at a microscope area, explore bee displays and meet like-minded bee fans,” Ellsworth said. “Those in attendance will go home with handouts and publications to help them learn more about the current situation of bees.”

She pointed out about a third of all American farm production is dependent upon the pollination efforts of commercially raised honeybees. But another pollinator of crops is the bumblebee. The insect was once common from the upper Midwest to the East Coast and was an important pollinator of crops and wildflowers.

Recently, experts say, it has undergone drastic decline. Once highly populated in 25 states, studies of the bumblebee show it has disappeared from 87 percent of its historic range.

One of the short course’s highlights is Bayer Bee Care Program’s Beehicle, a specially wrapped vehicle that’s on a three-month journey across the Midwest providing bee stewardship workshops and expert presentations on issues impacting honeybee wellness.
Addressing the workshop will be OSU speakers Mary Gardiner and Reed Johnson, both assistant professors in the Department of Entomology; department graduate research associates Scott Prajzner and Doug Sponsler; and Barbara Bloetscher, coordinator of the department’s School IPM Program and state apiarist with the Ohio Department of Ag.

Other speakers include Randy Mitchell, professor of biology at the University of Akron; Mary Rager, plant ecologist, Pollinator Partnership; and Robyn Kneen, bee health project manager, Bayer Crop Sciences North America.

The event will take place at OARDC’s Fisher Auditorium, 1680 Madison Ave. in Wooster. Registration is $40. To register and for more information, go to