Welcome to National Women in Ag. Association’s First Annual Symposium. I hope you enjoy your time with us. If there is anything that I can do to assist you please let me know.
My name is Cathy Johnson. I am the proprietor (Queen Bee) of Oklahoma’s Mason Bee Ranch.
Our goal is to attract, increase population and sustain native mason bees (Osmia) as alternative pollinators for orchardists, back yard and other specialty crop producers here in Oklahoma. It is important to note that native bees have their own regions throughout the US. In order to sustain native bee populations, you need to provide plants that attract and bloom during their short life cycle.
See next page….
Honey bees were imported from Europe and are not native to North America.
The only evidence we have of the initial importation of honey bees to North America is a letter written December 5, 1621 by the Council of the Virginia Company in London and addressed to the Governor and Council in Virginia.It was only with the help of humans that the honey bees managed to cross the last geographic barrier – the Rocky Mountains. Some immigrants transported them overland while others shipped the honey bees around the horn of South America. According to documentary evidence it took the honey bee more than 200 years to cross the continental United States.
Birds are very important pollinators of wildflowers throughout the world. In the continental United States, hummingbirds are key in wildflower pollination.
The smallest species — and smallest bird in the world — is the bee hummingbird, which weighs approximately 1.6 grams. It's the size of, well, a bee.
This bird is so small that it is sometimes mistaken for an insect.
You can see just how tiny the bee hummingbird is. It is about 2 inches long. It is native to Cuba and the Isle of Youth. However, there have been sightings in other places, such as Florida Keys.
Flowering plants include vegetables, fruit and flowers
Beneficial pollinators are responsible for putting these foods on your table. Without these beneficial pollinators, we would have to hand pollinate every single flowering plant in order for it to reproduce.
I can’t make is any plainer than that. While there are other reasons for hand pollination, I am concerned only with lack of natural pollinators. You too should be concerned.
Colony collapse disorder (CCD) is a phenomenon in which worker bees from a beehive or European honey bee colony abruptly disappear. While such disappearances have occurred throughout the history of apiculture, the term colony collapse disorder was first applied to a drastic rise in the number of disappearances of Western honey bee colonies in North America in late 2006. Colony collapse is economically significant because many agricultural crops worldwide are pollinated by bees.This phenomenon, which currently does not have a recognizable underlying cause, has been termed "Colony Collapse Disorder" (CCD). The main symptom of CCD is simply no or a low number of adult honey bees present but with a live queen and no dead honey bees in the hive. Often there is still honey in the hive, and immature bees (brood) are present.
Pesticides may be having negative effects on honey bees.A new parasite or pathogen may be attacking honey bees.A perfect storm of stresses may have weakened colonies leading to collapse.Still unsolved is what makes the bees fly off into the wild yonder at the point of death.
Because no clear cause for CCD has been established and demonstrated experimentally, a treatment for CCD is not currently possible. Many potential causes are currently being investigated.
Bee pollination is responsible for $15 billion in added crop value, particularly for specialty crops such as almonds and other nuts, berries, fruits, and vegetables. About one mouthful in three in YOUR diet directly or indirectly benefits from honey bee pollination.
This list is only a brief example and is intended to bring awareness of just how crucial pollination is for our cropsI purposely selected crops that demonstrate the variety of pollinators.
There are about 3,500 species of bees in North America, and over 20,000 bee species worldwide. Most species of bees are active as adults for only a few weeks annually. The rest of the year, they live in their nests as larvae, pupae and dormant adults. Their active periods coincide with the times during which their preferred floral hosts bloom.
Wild native bees provide free pollination services and are often specialized for foraging on particular flowers, such as squash, berries or orchard crops. This specialization results in more efficient pollination and the production of larger and more abundant fruit from certain crops (Tepedino, 1981; Bosch and Kemp, 2001; Javorek et. al.,2002). The pollination done by native bees contributes an estimated $3 billion worth of crop production annually to the U.S. economy (Losey and Vaughan, 2006).
These are actual mason bee cocoons outside the nest. Blue arrow is male (small)Pink arrow is female (large) the female cocoons are considerably larger than the male cocoons.These orchard mason bees will chew their way into the world. If there are many of them, you can actually hear them chewing their cocoons.
Mason Bee cocoons in the nest.
B. Life cycle, nesting habits, and manageabilityThe period of adult activity naturally coincides with the time of fruit tree bloom. The bee thrives in the climatic zones where fruit trees are grown. It nests in inexpensive, man-made, or altered natural substrates, finding all its material needs in or near the crop. The bee nests gregariously in aggregations, making it convenient to manage a large population. It is gentle, permitting human activities near its nests. It is relatively free of parasites and predators, or can easily be managed to eliminate them. Each female makes many cells that produce females in the next generation, thus the population can increase rapidly and pollination is enhanced (females are better pollinators than males).
Native bees are very efficient. Many species of native bees are much more effective than honey bees at pollinating flowers. For example, only 250 orchard mason bees (Osmia) are required to effectively pollinate one acre of apples. On the other hand, honey bees would require one and a half to two honey bee hives or approximately 15,000 to 20,000 honey bees to do the same task!
Invite pollinators to your neighborhood by planting a pollinator friendly habitat in your garden, farm, school, park or just about anywhere!
To learn more, please visit these websites.
Oklahoma’s mason bee ranch presentation
Welcome to National Women in Ag. Association’s First Annual Symposium April 3rd ~ April 5th, 2011
Oklahoma’s Mason Bee Ranch Specializing in native bees as alternative pollinators…..
Oklahoma’s Mason Bee Ranch is the first of its kind in the state of Oklahoma. Our goal is to: Attract native bees as alternative pollinators Increase native bee population Sustain native bee population
Honey BeeThe most recognized pollinators are various species ofbees. Most people think of the European Honey Bee orBumblebee when asked about pollinators. They are greatpollinators but they are not the only pollinators….
Did you know?There were NO honey bees on the NorthAmerican continent until the 1620’s whenthe colonists brought them to Jamestown,Virginia so they could harvest the bee’shoney.
• According to documentary evidence it took the honey bee more than 200 years to cross the continental United States.
ButterflyWhile butterflies may not be as efficient as bees in pollinating plantsand crops, butterflies certainly do their fair share in bringing about seedand fruit production.
Did you know?That butterflies taste with their feet? Their taste sensors are located in the feet, and by standing on their food, they can taste it.
Humming BirdHummingbirdBirds are very important pollinators of wildflowers throughout theworld. In the continental United States, hummingbirds are key inwildflower pollination
Did you know?• The hummingbird is the only bird that can fly backwards AND upside down.• The smallest bird in the world is the bee hummingbird. It weighs approximately 1.6 grams.
Pollen• Pollen is a fine to coarse powder made by plants. The pollen consists of grains carrying male cells.• Pollination happens when the pollen is moved to a female part of a flower.• Most flowering plants rely on nature, such as wind, insects and birds to move this pollen around.
PollinationWhile visiting flowers to gather nectar and pollen,pollinators (bees, birds and other insects) brushagainst the reproductive part of the flower,depositing pollen from a recently visited flower.Without this step many plants would not be able toproduce fruit and seeds.
The Importance of PollinatorsPollinators are essential to our environmentPollinators are necessary for the reproductionof nearly 75% of the world’s flowering plants.The United States grows more than 130 cropsthat need or benefit from pollinators.
Imagine this……• No blueberries….• No cherries…….• No flowers……• No melons………• No Chocolate…….yes…. no chocolate!
Hand PollinationThe primary reason for hand pollination inmany instances is lack of pollinators.
Economics• Science Daily reported on April 1, 2008 that the economic value of insect pollinated crops in the United States was estimated to be $57 billion dollars annually.• Native insects are responsible for pollinating at least 4 billion dollars in crops each year.• So, think twice before you swat that annoying insect……
What is CCD?• CCD is the term used for Colony Collapse disorder, identified in late 2006.• CCD is a phenomenon in which worker bees from a beehive or European honey bee colony abruptly disappear.• Colony collapse is significant because many agricultural crops worldwide are pollinated by bees.
What causes CCD?• Pesticides may be having negative effects on honey bees.• A new parasite or pathogen may be attacking honey bees.• A perfect storm of stresses may have weakened colonies leading to collapse.• Still unsolved is what makes the bees fly off into the wild yonder at the point of death and simply disappear.
CCD Solution• Because no clear cause (either a single factor or a combination of factors) for CCD has been established and demonstrated experimentally, a treatment for CCD is not currently possible.• Many potential causes are currently being investigated.• Because of the CCD phenomenon, native pollinators are more important than ever.
Why Should I Care?• Bee pollination is responsible for $15 billion in added crop value, particularly for specialty crops such as almonds and other nuts, berries, fruits, and vegetables.• About one mouthful of three in YOUR diet directly or indirectly benefits from honey bee pollination.
The Basics…• Orchard Mason Bee eggs are laid within a series of mud chambers, placed in a hole, piece of straw or reed about the width of a pencil and 6" or so deep. Female eggs are laid in the rear of the hole, given a meal of pollen and nectar then sealed in and protected from the winter with mud. Usually several eggs will be laid in each nest females in the rear and males up front. Each female bee will build three to five separate nests. Collecting the pollen and nectar for each egg takes about two dozen separate trips. Mason bees have a range of about 100 yards.
Life cycle, nesting habits, and manageability• The period of adult activity naturally coincides with the time of fruit tree bloom.• The bee thrives in the climatic zones where fruit trees are grown.• It nests in inexpensive, man-made, or altered natural substrates, finding all its material needs in or near the crop.• It is gentle, permitting human activities near its nests.• It is relatively free of parasites and predators, or can easily be managed to eliminate them.• Each female makes many cells that produce females in the next generation, thus the population can increase rapidly.• Males live short and very happy lives.
Let’s Do Some MathNative bees are very efficient. Many speciesof native bees are much more efficient thanhoney bees at pollinating flowers. Forexample, only 250 orchard mason bees(Osmia) are required to effectively pollinateone acre of apples. On the other hand, honeybees would require one and a half to twohoney bee hives or approximately 15,000 to20,000 honey bees to do the same task!
The Amazing Mason BeeDoesn’t make honeyRarely stingsEfficient pollinator for early crops
What can I do?Plant a pollinator gardenBuild a native bee nesting boxAvoid or limit pesticide use
Invite pollinators to your neighborhood by planting a pollinatorfriendly habitat in your garden, farm, school, park or just about anywhere!